Saturday, 04 June 2016 08:00

Southern Alberta Grazing School for Women returns to Elkwater

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Registration has started for the 13th annual Southern Alberta Grazing School for Women and organizers are expecting the 40 spots to fill up quickly.


This year’s school takes place in Elkwater in the picturesque Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park Alberta, July 27-28.
“It’s a really positive and fun time,” says Norine Ambrose, executive director of Cows and Fish, which is just one of the many partners, including municipalities and counties, organizing the event. “We try to make it relevant and interesting and we get speakers who are interesting and engaging.”
There are sessions for the women in a classroom setting using the Elkwater Community Hall, but also hands-on sessions in the field, putting into practice the information shared.
A number of different topics are covered including range and riparian health, stocking rates, grazing principles and practices, riparian grazing strategies, and species at risk and the land.
Participants will learn how to assess the health of the range and riparian areas as well as learn plant identification. The $100 registration fee, while it does not cover accommodations, does cover all meals (two breakfasts, two lunches and one supper), as well as the cost of a plant identification book. The fee is so affordable thanks to the sponsorship of the various partners, government agencies and grant funding.
Ambrose says this year’s event will also include some historical information about grazing in the interprovincial park as well as some local ranch women will speak about the successes and challenges they face on their own operations in the area.
Evaluations filled out in prior years, has proven that participants find the information useful and often make changes to their own farming or ranching operations.
“Almost 100 per cent say they learned new things they can apply at home,” explains Ambrose. “A high percentage make changes at home based on what they’ve learned. They understand more about livestock behaviour, plant identification and how to determine stocking rates.”
There is also value for the women to be able to speak directly with experts who are invited to present and bounce ideas off of them and each other.
For many women, the annual grazing school has been a chance to bond with other ranching women and form friendships that have lasted after returning to their own homes.
“The ladies begin to form a community and make friends,” adds Ambrose. “There are people more experienced that they can learn from and that’s a really valuable opportunity as well.”
The grazing school has proven popular over the years in part because of the unique learning environment that is geared for women only.
The role women are playing in farming and ranching operations has also increased over the years as more females are in charge due to living longer than men, a higher divorce rate and more men having to work off the farm or ranch in other jobs in order to make ends meet.
“It’s a very different setting and we want that,” adds Ambrose about the grazing school.
Registration for the two-day event is open. Women who register by June 15 will be entered for a chance to win a prize. The registration deadline is July 18, but Ambrose encourages people interested not to wait to register.
“I would say people should register sooner rather than later. We anticipate it will be full well before the deadline.”
Those attending will also need to arrange their accommodations soon, as the interprovincial park’s campsites and hotel can fill quickly in the summer months.
Those interested are encouraged to register online at: 2016sagsw.event brite.com.
Payment can be made with credit card or cheque made payable to “ Alberta Riparian Habitat Management Society”. Registration is not considered final until payment is received.
If someone can’t register online, contact Ross Adams at 587-220-7399 or by emailing: radams@cowsandfish. org.
For additional information, visit www.southernalbertagsw.blogspot.ca.

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Rose Sanchez

Assistant Managing Editor

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