Annie’s Project: More than two dozen area women complete six-week Farm Management Education Program offered by ISU Extension and Outreach

Twenty-six area women recently invested six weeks into learning about how to make their farming operations more successful.  “While farm women have always been an integral part of agriculture, their role in managing farm operations continues to grow. That’s why Iowa State University Extension and Outreach (ISUEO) recently offered Annie’s Project to farm women in northeast Iowa,” says Melissa O’Rourke, ISUEO’s Farm and Agribusiness Management Specialist.

Annie’s Project is a farm management risk education program designed for women and facilitated by women agriculture professionals.  O’Rourke describes Annie’s Project as a six-week program “intended to educate and empower farm women to be better business partners by managing and organizing critical information, improving decision-making skills, and networking with other farm women.”

Locally, the program was held at the Allamakee County ISU Extension and Outreach office in Waukon. Julie Christensen and Lana Dahlstrom served as the local coordinators. “Julie and Lana were the local ‘boots on the ground’ who made this program successful in Allamakee County,” said O’Rourke.

Women traveled from several communities including Waukon, Dorchester, Castalia, Harpers Ferry, Waterville, Lansing, Monona, Ossian, New Albin, Luana and Postville to participate in Annie’s Project. “We had a great group of women from northeast Iowa who made a commitment to learning about how to be better farm business partners and managers,” says O’Rourke.

Each session of Annie’s Project included presentations and extended discussions with women agriculture professionals on topics of importance to participants’ future in agribusiness. A wide variety of topics were covered, such as building and understanding farm financial statements, grain marketing, USDA programs, agronomy basics, crop and farm business insurance, farmland leasing, and farm transition and estate. The following presented at Annie’s Project in Waukon: Sally Leibold, Colors Presenter; Lashelle Evans, Viking State Bank & Trust; Vicky Hinsenbrock, Farm Service Agency; Kristy Rupprecht and Janet Adam, Farm Credit Services of America; Kim Winters, Waukon Feed Ranch, Inc.; Jane Regan, Upper Iowa Insurance Service Corporation; Sara Berges, Allamakee County Soil & Water Conservation District; Kendra Van Sloten, Dupont Pioneer; and Nikki Meyer, Pioneer.

On the last evening of the program, each participant was congratulated on successful completion and honored with a certificate marking their accomplishment.  As one participant stated, “I came into this wanting to know and understand what my husband deals with on a day-to-day basis. I have learned a lot and I have a better understanding of what my husband is talking about. I feel that if something should happen and I do have to take care of our operation, I have the tools to help me through.”

Annie’s Project courses in Iowa are sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture and Farm Credit Services of America. Local program sponsors included Kerndt Brothers Bank, Allamakee County Farm Bureau, Waukon State Bank, Waukon Feed Ranch, Inc., Farmers & Merchants Savings Bank, and Innovative Ag Services.

It is hoped that future Annie’s Project programs can be offered in the area. Interested persons should contact their local ISU Extension office for more information.