By Stephanie Herseth Sandlin

 September 25, 2012 - Farming, ranching and forest land management is a delicate balance of hard work, vision, perseverance, faith, and preparation. We need to have the best skills we can possibly have – whether it is waking up at dawn to do hands-on farm or ranch work or staying up late to plan the marketing, keep the books, put the finishing touches on next year’s business plan, or thinking about how to transition the business to our children and grandchildren.That’s why being at The Gathering is so important. We need to come together and we need to have access to the best financial and management skills possible to ensure our operations are solid and thriving. We need to learn from each other and inspire not only ourselves but the next generation to keep things moving and growing.

The challenges of today’s farm, ranch or forestland owner are complex and ever changing. Some of the challenges aren’t new – but the way we deal with those challenges is evolving.The challenges aren’t daunting – as my grandmother said, there isn’t anything you can’t do. But they are different. We have at our fingertips the world of technology and we need to more fully understand how it can help us build stronger financial and management skills.
But we also need each other. One group of women a few years ago told me: “We need to come together. We need the relationships that only being together can give us. We are more isolated than our grandmothers ever were and the expectations on us are modern expectations. If we come together to learn and grow, we will make our lives richer and our operations stronger.” I will never forget those words. Of course! But I also heard from a woman within that same group that she needed the flexibility of learning in the privacy of her own home, on her own schedule and at her own pace.
The Gathering is important; now more than ever. We need women’s insight so that the strongest learning and leadership environment can be built and adapted to our unique needs. The agricultural sector needs us to be the strongest and best trained women possible so that we can lead.
Join us at The Gathering. We respect and honor your voices in this important effort. It will truly benefit us all.
Stephanie Herseth Sandlin is a member of the Board of Incorporators for the Women’s Farm and Forestry Alliance, General Counsel to Raven Industries and former Member of Congress from South Dakota.
To register for the Women’s Farm and Forestry Alliance Annual Gathering, go to
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