American Sociological Association

Sociology in Action: Angie Carter


Angie Carter with WFAN founder, Denise O'Brien

Angie Carter, Assistant Professor of Environmental and Energy Justice in the Department of Social Sciences at Michigan Tech University, collaborates with Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN) in Story City, IA, where she worked with the organization on a number of projects. ASA asked Carter about her work:

What is the mission of WFAN? Women, Food and Agriculture Network is a community of women in sustainable agriculture. Their mission is to engage women in building an ecological and just food and agricultural system through individual and community power.

Could you describe your involvement with the organization? From 2011 through the present, I have collaborated with WFAN on the following projects:

  • Bi-annual survey of WFAN members to identify advocacy interest areas and needs.
  • Partnered with WFAN on a federal EPA grant to study conservation adoption among women farmland owners; these funds supported statewide women farmland learning circles and field days.
  • Participatory PhotoVoice project with women farmland owners in the Raccoon River watershed, Iowa's most agriculturally polluted watershed.
  • Co-led state and national workshops, panels, and presentations of our research at conferences.

What sociological knowledge and/or skills do you use? I used qualitative and quantitative research (surveys, interviews, focus groups), participatory research, and feminist research methodology.

How did you connect with Women, Food and Agriculture Network? I first connected with this organization when a faculty member nominated me to serve as a student board member during my master's program at Iowa State University. I continued my connection with WFAN through participatory research projects during my dissertation and post-dissertation research.

How long did the projects last? The most recent PhotoVoice project grant lasted one year; however, the collaboration is ongoing. The women farmland owner project lasted 3 years and has evolved into additional collaborations within and beyond the organization. I continue to assist with analysis of research and to partner with members of WFAN on research projects in the Midwest.

Is there anything else you would like to share about this work? I have learned a great deal through my partnerships with WFAN and its members. Collaborating with WFAN taught me how community-based research can be transformative and contribute to social change. I hope that my contributions to their work have helped to pay back my debt to this powerful network of inspirational women leading the change in the food production system.