Annie’s Project empowers women in ag
Annie’s Project is a national nonprofit organization created to empower and educate women who have a passion for agriculture.
“The idea behind Annie’s Project is to build confidence, develop networks and create lifelong learners among women farmers, ranchers and growers,” stated Gretchen Gasvoda, University of Wyoming (UW) Extension educator in Big Horn County.
In 2003, Ruth Hambleton, a University of Illinois Extension educator, started Annie’s Project to pay tribute to her mother Annette (Annie) Fleck.
Annie grew up in a small farm community with the goal of marrying a farmer, and in 1947, she did. She spent her life learning how to be an involved partner with her husband, but it wasn’t always easy.
According to the Annie’s Project website, “Through it all, Annie kept records. She kept the farm business running, she kept the family running, and she kept her marriage. Annie knew deadlines, reporting requirements and tax issues. She did little management jobs which supported big management decisions.”
Annie’s Project takes her experiences and shares them with other women who work in the agricultural industry.
Attend a local class
Trained facilitators at UW Extension offices around the state offer Annie’s Project courses, which were created especially for women who work in and around agriculture.
“The first sessions offered in Wyoming were in 2011 in Lusk and Torrington when UW Extension partnered with Wyoming Women in Ag and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency to offer the programs. The response was enthusiastic, so more programs are planned,” reads the UW Extension website.
“Each program is designed as a six-week course to help women in agriculture develop management and decision-making skills and build peer relationships,” Gasvoda explained. “Sessions include presentations and discussion forums which allow the women to learn from agriculture professionals and network with other women in similar situations.”
She further noted, during the six-week program, sessions include guest speakers, brief presentations and discussions focused on participants’ questions.
“Annie’s Project allows farm women to learn from female agricultural professionals and connect with other women in similar situations to help them develop their management and decision-making skills for their operations,” Gasvoda said.
Class topics vary widely according to local interest. Still, a typical program would include information in areas of financial records, production and risk management, marketing plans, legal and regulatory issues, business records and documentation, time management and human resources.
“Teaching classes is very rewarding,” Gasvoda added. “In 2022, I had 18 women graduate from the program, and we still stay in touch. It’s great to hear about their success.”
Online resources available
Annie’s Project offers online resources to help women build successful agricultural businesses, which can be challenging.
Annie’s Project also provides video links and podcasts on their website. In September, women had the opportunity to sign up and join free training on agricultural stress management and farm transition resiliency webinars.
Women can join and celebrate 20 years of empowering women in agriculture at the 2023 National Annie’ Project Convention, held Oct. 18-20 in St. Louis, Mo. If unable to attend in person, Annie’s Project proudly offers 20th Anniversary Showcases.
The showcases include a presentation from Iowa State University featuring cybersecurity and managing financial risks, Missouri Annie’s Project discussing farm succession and Colorado Annie’s Project presenting on how to manage farm budgets.
For more information on Annie’s Project, visit anniesproject.org.
Melissa Anderson is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.