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Annie's Project empowers women in ag

Courtesy of Alicia Harstand Alicia Harstad, NDSU Extension Agent and Annie’s Project facilitator,  teaches program participants
BUILDING CONFIDENCE: Alicia Harstad, NDSU Extension agent, is a facilitator for Annie’s Project, which helps participates learn risk areas in farm management.
Program helps women in agriculture learn more about multiple aspects of farm management.

Bonnie Hofmann grew up on a cattle operation in northwest North Dakota. But when she married her farming husband, Jacob, she realized how his operation was much different.

“Growing up with cattle, I was well versed in that industry, but marrying a farmer was a big learning curve,” Hofmann says. “From understanding the record keeping and tax preparation to learning the markets and everything in between, I wanted to understand the why in what my husband was doing and even help him if I could.”

So Hofmann took part in Annie’s Project “There were so many great speakers, and I learned so much about record keeping and how to prepare for the future of our farm — something I hadn’t even considered,” Hoffman says. Their family operation is a no-till crop farm just north of Medina, which is also home to 4-H animal projects for their kids.

Courtesy of Bonnie HofmannBonnie Hofmann, Annie’s Project participant, and her family

Bonnie Hofmann and her family live in Medina, N.D., on a diversified crop farm. Hofmann gained management knowledge from her participation in Annie’s Project.

Designed to introduce women who married into agriculture or are new to a specific facet of agriculture, Annie’s Project teaches essential farm management principles over six sessions.

Alicia Harstad, a North Dakota State University Extension agent and Annie’s Project facilitator, explains that Annie was a real woman who married into a farm. She didn't grow up on a farm but wanted to become more involved with the operation and make some financial decisions.

Annie’s Project is a nationwide course that teaches women from all walks of life about these five risks:

  1. financial
  2. human resources
  3. legal
  4. market
  5. production

Education over these areas give women the knowledge needed to manage their farm operations for today and into the future.

Participation opportunities

Across the nation, many opportunities are offered to take classes, but the largest is through the Extension system. The 18 hours of education that Annie’s Project requires for participants to complete is typically done with six sessions, three hours a night. There are various formats for how the course can be completed, with some facilitators choosing to host a weekend retreat, or even a virtual class.

Harstad says that in Stutsman County, N.D., their priority is to build relationships in the program, so they meet in person for the course. “A really big part of Annie’s is making that network with the other participants and also the speakers.”

Past participants in Annie’s Project share what they learned and encourage other women in agriculture to complete the program. “I want to take it again,” Hofmann says. “The speakers were all so good, and the fellowship was worth the drive. I learned so much and discovered many great websites and programs that are available in North Dakota,”

Alicia HarstandFrayne Olson of NDSU Extension teaches program participants

Frayne Olson of NDSU Extension teaches program participants the five essential risk areas for growing their knowledge in farm operations.

Harstad says the program is for anyone that wants to get more information about the different risk areas. She says it is for all stages of a farm woman’s life.

“This session, we have a woman that's engaged, so not married into the farm yet, all the way to some people that have been part of the farm for 30 years. There's something in it for everybody, whether they grew up on a farm or not, manage their own farm, or have married into a farm,”

Check out the Annie's Project website to find a class in your area, or more information about what Annie’s Project does to empower women in agriculture.


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