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Women Landowners Arm for Conservation Push

Growing number of women landowners seek role in land operational decisions, helped by federally funded outreach programs.

Ruth Rabinowitz had a problem.

The long-time professional wedding photographer inherited hundreds of acres of fertile farmland in Iowa and South Dakota from her deceased father, David Rabinowitz, a Great Depression-era doctor, who invested heavily in Iowa farmland between 1978 and the mid 1990s.

“He didn’t believe in the stock market, but he believed in land,” she says. 

Ruth grew up in Arizona, where she remembered the trappings of her father’s land portfolio, including Corn Suitability Rating Reports as a constant presence, and California, where she got her art degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She lived in California until last year, when she built a house in Iowa and relocated to be closer to the property.

After dividing up the purchases of land among family members following her father’s death in 2019, Ruth ended up with about 400 acres of working cropland and about 300 acres of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) land.

The problem wasn’t the land. The problem was what to do with it.

Caring for the Land

“I believe we’re in a climate crisis,” Ruth says. “I had to evacuate my house in California from the huge fires last summer that were 3 miles from my house. I’ve seen it getting hotter and hotter and drier and drier. The land needs us to take care of it.”

Ruth shared her father’s convictions about conservation.

She started researching conservation methods to try and find out how best to use the land and, in the process, discovered…

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Brian o connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor started at Lessiter Media as the Lead Content Editor for Conservation Agriculture in November 2021. He previously worked in daily print journalism for more than a decade in places as far flung as Alaska and the U.S. Virgin Islands, where he shared a national award for coverage of two Category 5 hurricanes that struck the islands in 2017. He's also taught English in Korea, delivered packages for Amazon, and coordinated Wisconsin election night coverage for the Associated Press. His first job was on a Southeast Wisconsin farm.

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