Annie’s Project is designed especially for women in ag and it’s coming to Colo. | TheFencePost.com

Annie’s Project is designed especially for women in ag and it’s coming to Colo.

Stacey Swanson
Annie’s Project Facilitator
Fort Collins, Colorado

Women in ag are an underserved audience. They attend to so many things in one day. They worry. They support. They pray. They work hard. And they keep going.

They each have their own story.

Some women marry into the business, knowing nothing about farming and ranching.

Some women are raised on a farm, then marry a farmer and keep doing what they saw their mothers, grandmothers and aunts do, while adjusting to her new family’s ways.

Some women own their own farms and ranches, lease grazing pasture, or have dairies, organic farms or specialty crops.

Some women grow up on the farm, leave as adults and return when it is time to handle things when their parents no longer can.

Some women are married to a farmer and work outside the home to make ends meet but are still involved in the operation when they are home at night and on weekends.

Farm and ranch women are decision makers and the decisions made today have a long-range impact on all businesses. Therefore, it is extremely important for women to understand the five areas of agricultural financial risk and to be well equipped to handle issues that affect farm and ranch operations.

But where can they turn? How do you learn about growing your operation? How do they plan for the future, market your crops, change enterprises and avoid financial risk? How do they plan to keep and run their operation if their spouse or other key members of the business are no longer there to guide them?

Annie’s Project can help.

Annie’s Project is a program that empowers women in ag to be better business owners and partners through networks and by managing and organizing critical information. It is sponsored by companies who support agriculture, such as Farm Credit, Nationwide Insurance and the USDA.

Annie’s Project has been around for over 17 years and was started as a way to honor Annie Kohlhagen Fleck. Annie’s experiences as an involved business partner and farmer with her husband was the foundation for the course. Hundreds of Annie’s Project courses have helped more than 14,000 women in ag prepare, manage, plan and improve their operations.

RISK AREAS

The program addresses these five areas of risk as identified by the USDA: human resources, marketing, financial, legal and production.

The course consists of six evening classes of instruction for females, by (mostly) female presenters. The all-female environment promotes a friendly learning environment where questions and discussion are welcome and allow the learning process to flourish.

There is plenty of time for questions, sharing, reacting and connecting with your presenters and fellow participants.

Presentations and content are designed specifically for women in ag to support them in developing their management and decision-making skills. And it’s not just sitting listening to a lecture. The presentations include hands-on practices and projects, including information to take home and share with your family. Since the all-female course meets for a total of 18 hours, long-lasting relationships, mentoring and networking become the main benefit of attending.

According to Anna Brooks, past participant in a Morgan County Annie’s Project and an Annie’s Project facilitator, women are often left out of farm businesses in areas such as planning, insurance decisions, bookkeeping, taxes and estate planning. “Annie’s Project fills that hole quite well.” She thinks “women of all ages need to take the classes just to know how to run the farm.” When Brooks’ husband passed away and left her family land in Nebraska, her mission was to learn how to manage it and prevent losing it from lack of knowledge.

Brooks said that many women are owners of their own small acreages where they grow ‘boutique crops,’ such as spices, herbs and vineyards. These women need guidance, knowledge and the ability to make sound decisions for their investments. Brooks said, “there is not another entity that she knows of that teaches women in this way.” She has attended other classes but “Annie’s Project really pulled it all together for her.” Due to all she learned at her Annie’s Project course, Brooks is successfully leasing her grazing land, helping women with legal issues related to their operations and land, and plans to help women transition to hemp crops in the near future. Her final thoughts ring true to the core of taking an Annie’s Project course. “Annie’s Project is a great opportunity to meet other women and empower and encourage each other,” she concluded.

Annie’s Project is specifically geared for women. The networking, sharing of ideas, learning together and friendships built (not to mention time away from the kids and farm) make this an amazing opportunity for each one of you.

Stop by the Colorado Farm Show class to learn more about Annie’s Project on Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 1 p.m., located in the Exhibition Building upstairs classroom.

And then plan to join us for the first Annie’s Project course in Weld County.

We are seeking sponsors for meals provided each night to participants. If you are interested, please contact Stacey Swanson at sswanson@gvcaponline.com. ❖