COLUMBIA, Mo. — University of Missouri Extension is celebrating the 20th year of Annie’s Project, a national nonprofit to educate and empower women in agriculture.
Annie’s Project uses a methodology that builds confidence, develops networks and creates lifelong learners among women farmers, ranchers, growers, landowners and agriculturalists, said Annie’s Project co-CEO Karisha Devlin, who is an agricultural business specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
The program has more than 19,000 graduates across 38 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The inaugural class of 10 women met in February 2003 in Centralia, Illinois.
“By spreading the methodology of Annie’s Project throughout the United States and, eventually, the world, we can improve businesses and the lives of women in agriculture,” Devlin said in a news release.
To celebrate this milestone anniversary, MU Extension invites those interested in celebrating the success of Annie's Project to the MU Greenley Research, Extension and Education Center in Novelty from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 1.
Register for the free event at www.cvent.com/d/6lqd04/4W.
“We will celebrate with amazing women who are making a difference in agriculture,” Devlin said. “Come network with other women and learn about leadership, business and estate planning, self-defense and self-care.”
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Annie’s Project is based on the life of a farm woman, Annie Fleck, who spent her lifetime learning how to be an involved business partner with her husband. Fleck, who died in 1997, inspired her daughter, Ruth Fleck Hambleton, to create Annie’s Project in 2003. Hambleton was a farm business management and marketing educator for University of Illinois Extension at the time.
“Watching Mom and everything she did gave me tremendous empathy for what women were going through on the farm operation,” said Hambleton.
“Missouri started teaching Annie's Project courses in 2005,” said Devlin. “It initially spread to other states through Extension. Ruth talked about Annie's Project at a National Extension Risk Management Education conference, and other states became interested in the program and asked to bring it back to their state.”
In Annie’s Project classes, trained facilitators provide safe harbor, connection, discovery and shared experiences, Devlin said.
Vetted instructors and presenters deliver unbiased, research-based information to small, dynamic groups of women.
At the core of Annie’s Project are several courses that address risk management. The first course, Annie’s 1.0, covers all five areas of risk identified by USDA. The “Managing for Today and Tomorrow” course addresses developing business plans, retirement, succession, transition and estate planning. “Know Your Numbers, Know Your Options,” which takes a deeper dive into financial literacy, is currently offered online by MU Extension.
“Inspired by Annie’s” courses focus on particular interests of an audience, conference or hands-on event. For example, MU Extension will offer a Value- Added Agriculture series in April.
Events are planned nationwide to celebrate the 20th anniversary, with updates at www.anniesproject.org and facebook.com/anniesproject.