Annie’s Project, a national non-profit to educate and empower women in agriculture, is celebrating 20 years since its founding. Today, the program has over 19,000 graduates across 38 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Annie’s Project is an education program for women in agriculture and uses a methodology that builds confidence, develops networks and creates lifelong learners among women farmers, ranchers, growers, landowners, and agriculturalists.
The inaugural class of 10 women met in February 2003 in Centralia, IL, and several members of the group gathered again for a virtual meeting via Zoom to share memories of those early meetings and the impact Annie’s Project has had on their farms and lives this month to commemorate the milestone.
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. She died in 1997 and was the inspiration for 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,” says Hambleton.
In Annie’s Project classes, trained facilitators provide safe harbor, connection, discovery, and shared experiences. Vetted instructors and presenters deliver unbiased research-based information to small, dynamic groups of women.
The core of Annie’s Project are two courses that address the 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” takes a deeper dive into financial literacy.
“Inspired by Annie’s” courses have been added that focus on particular interests of an audience, conferences, or hands-on events.
Additional events are being planned to celebrate the 20th anniversary, with updates provided at www.anniesproject.org or on Facebook. Sponsors can contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn ways to be part of the initiative and the celebration.
For a recent Turf Magazine article entitled, “Mission Unstoppable: Women in Trees,” click here.