Empowering Women on the Land
WLA’s Women in Ranching program envisions a culture of western ranching that acknowledges and celebrates the diversity of our land stewards. We create space and permission for women to come together and find renewal in the necessary work to shape whole, healthy landscapes and sustainable food systems.
What our participants say
Circle 6 - Montana
Wild Rose Center
This circle formed in September 2019. The Wild Rose Center is a healing retreat center on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, in Busby, Montana.
Circle 5 - New Mexico
Trout Stalker Ranch
Trout Stalker Ranch is a premier fly fishing destination on the Chama River in northern New Mexico. They are also known for impeccable land stewardship practices.
Circle 4 - Montana
J Bar L Ranch
The J Bar L near Twin Bridges, Montana hosted 21 amazing women for Circle 4 in August 2019. The J Bar L is a stunning working ranch doing powerful stewardship work.
Circle 3 - Montana
Diamond Cross Ranch
The Diamond Cross in Birney, Montana is home to beautiful and strong cows, elk, and women. They hosted in August 2019.
Generous ranch owners offer their ranch locations free of charge to our program and help to organize catering services, thereby keeping Circle membership fees low for participants. Women in Ranching provides a team of facilitators who work with the landowners and ranch staff to bring a cohort (we call them circles) of about 20 women together. Each circle comes together for a one year, two gathering course, with ample opportunities for peer to peer learning, leadership building and intentional community development. We emphasize permission, emergence and acceptance.
Women in Ranching Circles catalyze action: books have been written, partnerships have formed, business concepts have become reality, monthly rural women’s groups have taken shape and these women have begun to say YES to their dreams. These gatherings create meaningful progress in ranching through building an intricate, resilient network of dynamic social capital that is centered in empowering and supporting women’s work on the land. Our facilitators hold space for these women to explore roadblocks and find strength in their unique voice.
The first Women in Ranching Circle was hosted in 2016 by Paicines Ranch, in California. Two years and several convenings later, WinR found a permanent home with the Western Landowners Alliance, a West-wide organization advancing policies and practices that sustain working lands, connected landscapes and native species.
Today, we are a growing collaborative of women who convene on host ranches to learn, play and find a renewed awareness of inner abundance and resiliency. We believe these gatherings activate women to connect and share with each other and strengthen our collective voice for the betterment of our rural communities.
Women in Ranching (WinR) emerged in direct response to an expressed need: working-lands women throughout the West were seeking ways to connect with one another, to promote leadership and inspire creative solutions for how best to support a growing resource of female leaders.
Meet some of the Women in Ranching
Leslie + Mollie Dorrance
Stories from Women in Ranching
By Sarah Gleason |
One cold, dark, November night, I was lost somewhere outside the small town of Walden, CO, searching for a bison ranch. I had taken time off from my marketing job at Whole Foods Market to help during the outfit’s annual bison roundup. With no cell service, I was becoming increasingly concerned about finding the ranch. Self-doubt kicked in. When I finally had service I called my husband. “Is this normal?! For a 30-some year old woman to be spending her free time showing up at some ranch not knowing where she is going to sleep, what she is going to eat, to learn about a completely new profession?!” My husband replied, “No, but do it anyway.”
By Julie Sullivan |
I’ve always doted on the calves, but this year I realize that I am in love with the Motherherd. I love the Mother words: Motherlove, Mothergod, Acequia Madre. Written as compound words, they become icons rather than alphabetic symbols to me, and like an icon, the paint, wood and gilt is believed to be infused with the sacred nature of what it depicts. The word and the herd smooth my skin when I’m rattled or angry.
By Jessie Maier |
As I drove north and east, away from the golden California foothills that are Steinbeck country and into a Martian landscape where places went by names like “Craters of the Moon,” “Atomic City” and the “Sawtooth Mountains,” I wondered what was wrong with me.