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Annie's National Network Initiative for Educational Success
ANNIES E-News - August 1, 2009


ANNIES UPDATES: News from Bob and Tim on Building the Network
TEACHING UPDATES: Ruth Writes on Using the Feedback Form
CLASS FACILITATION: Helpful Hints from Lani to Help Make Your Job Easier
FEATURE STATE/REGION: Madeline Shares News and Insights from Michigan


News from Bob and Tim on Building the Network

New Name for Annie's Support
We've changed our name from Annie's National Outreach Center Project (ANOCP) to Annie's National Network Initiative for Educational Success (ANNIES.) We hope this name change reflects how significant we believe each educator in the network is to the overall strength of this program. As a bonus, this name offers an acronym we can all remember. By the way, we still refer to classes as "Annie's Project".

ANNIES is Here for You
ANNIES' goal is to provide educators across the country with training and assistance along with methodology, curricula and educational materials. We've been busy evaluating impacts, seeking funding and expanding partnerships in order to continue to provide these key services at minimal costs to the network. ANNIES is working hard for you by providing leadership to develop the educator network, sharing resources and adapting programming to help you effectively educate local audiences about agricultural risk management. The ANNIES program office is located at Iowa State University, 1111 NSRIC, Ames, IA 50011-3310 and your main points of contact are Madeline Schultz, Program Coordinator,, 515-294-0588; and Lani McKinney, Program Assistant,, 515-294-2136. The Annie's National Leadership Team (NLT) members are Karisha Devlin (MO), Tim Eggers (IA), Ruth Hambleton (IL), Kelvin Leibold (IA), Lani McKinney (IA), Madeline Schultz (IA), Mary Sobba (MO), and Bob Wells (IA). See our websites at and

Join Us on the Monthly National Conference Call
We invite you to join Annie's Project founder, Ruth Hambleton, and other Annie's NLT Team members, on a monthly conference call beginning August 21st. The calls will be held every third Friday of the month at 1:00 pm Central. To join the toll-free conference, you may call 1-866-809-4014 and enter Pass code 2946161#. We hope these calls will become an effective way to increase communication among ANNIES and all educators in the network.

Farm Credit Council Notebooks
The Farm Credit Council (FCC) has long been a strong supporter of Annie's Project. Special notebooks with the FCC logo on them alongside the Annie's Project logo were purchased by FCC to encourage local Farm Credit banks to sponsor Annie's Project classes. Facilitators that obtain $500 or more in local Farm Credit bank sponsorship will have the opportunity to provide the special notebooks to class participants, without cost. Call us for more details.


Ruth Writes on Using the Feedback Form

One of my favorite tools to use for Annie's Project is the half sheet feedback form. One side is for "Lessons Learned" and the flip side is for "Things I need to learn." I do not call this form an evaluation tool, but rather a way to monitor how a class is going. I find the form is quick and easy for the women to respond to following any class. I've used the information for scheduled instructors (from the "Things I need to learn. . ." side) so instructors are ready to meet expectations, and I've used the "Lessons Learned" side with sponsors providing them with immediate feedback for their efforts. This handy form is located at this link:

P.S. the idea comes from an Annie's Project class held in Iowa. . .pass it on. Do you have good ideas to share? Pass them on!


Helpful Hints from Lani

Need Your Classes for Annie's Website
We are in the process of revamping the Annie's Project public and facilitator websites. The goal is to make things intuitive and easy to find. We know women most often access our public website to find out when an Annie's Project class will be held in their area. This is where you come into play. It is IMPERATIVE, of utmost importance, necessary, of the essence, essential, urgent, vital (you get the picture) you send us information on your upcoming class. We'd like to know when and where they are happening. If you have a brochure or have the information up on your website, even better.

Checklist for Classes
I will be putting together a comprehensive checklist to help those of you teaching the Annie's Project classes know what things need to be taken care of before, during and after your class is taught. In the meantime, I want to mention a few things you'll need to do when getting ready for your class/classes:


Madeline Shares News and Insights from Michigan

Michigan Extension Educators Lead the Way
Stephanie Schafer and June Bailey participated in the first two Annie's Project classes held in the state of Michigan which drew an audience of 30 women. The debut classes, organized by Maury Kaercher, Extension District Farm Management Educator, were held in Fall of 2008 and Winter of 2009. Word about Annie's Project spread quickly among Michigan State University Extension educators. Warren Schauer, Extension District Farm Management Educator, wrote for and received a Northeast Risk Management Education grant to support educator training and delivery of four additional Annie's Project classes to be held in 2009/2010.

Annie's founder, Ruth Hambleton; her daughter, Lynn Heins, who is an Extension Farm Management Educator in Missouri; and Madeline Schultz, Program Coordinator for ANNIES, traveled to Michigan for the Annie's Project Train-the-Trainer workshop, held July 14-15, 2009 in Clare, MI. The 23 Extension educators attending the workshop had a variety of farm management and family and consumer sciences backgrounds and were enthusiastic about reaching out to audiences of women in agriculture across the state.

The MI Extension group selected Marilyn Thelen as the State Coordinator for Annie's Project. She will assist with coordinating Annie's Project activities in the state, help to keep local Facilitators informed and up-to-date on Annie's Project methodology, curricula, and data collection, and be a key communication link with ANNIES. The group perceived a need for adaptations of the core curricula to help educate Michigan women about diverse businesses such as fruit and vegetable marketing, forest land management, dairy marketing and small business planning, as well as serve a unique Hispanic audience of women. The group noted that Level II (advanced) Annie's Project classes may be best facilitated by team members who are not doing the Level I (core) programming due to time commitments.

Women in Ag Speak-up About Educational Needs
One of the highlights of the Annie's Project Train-the-Trainer workshop was the session with the past Annie's Project class participants. These two women in agriculture are in different stages of their life and came to the class with different backgrounds, but each found the class very worthwhile. Stephanie Schafer and June Bailey shared their Annie's Project class experiences and offered insights to the Michigan educators for the future.

Stephanie Schafer knew about Annie's Project and was waiting impatiently for the classes to be offered in MI. Her family participates in Michigan's Tel-Farm farm management program and when she saw the Annie's Project class announcement in the Tel-Farm newsletter, she jumped on the opportunity. Stephanie invited three neighboring dairy farm women to sign up for the class, too. The four women enjoyed the 50 minute drive to and from the classes each week and found this was a great time to discuss what they were learning, share how they were doing things on their farms, and talk about changes they could make. They liked the True Colors exercise and said it was fun to find out they were a mix of Blue, Green and Gold and compare this to their husband's personalities.

As a Green, Stephanie was in the midst of analyzing whether or not to shift from two-times-a-day milking to three-times-a-day milking on her family dairy farm. She commented, "I was excited about the opportunity to access so many knowledgeable professionals through the Annie's Project classes." Stephanie said these experts helped with her decision and the family did shift to 3-times-a-day milking which has been working out well in this tough year for the dairy industry. The family is also considering an expansion and Stephanie is working with the numbers on that. She is a very integral part of the daily decision making and milk production activities on her farm. After every class night, she went back to the family farm, shared what she had learned with others and completed self-assigned homework on the class topics.

Stephanie stated that she wanted one more session, especially on leasing and cash rents, and she wants to attend advanced Annie's Project programming. She noted the professor-type speakers had a tendency to talk over the audience. She suggested the educators work with speakers ahead of time to make sure they know it is important to be a resource and to answer questions and not necessarily get though a power point slide set. Stephanie appreciated the opportunity to ask questions and felt comfortable doing so without the men around. She liked the concept that everything discussed in the room stays in the room and had no problem bringing her own balance sheet to refer to as this was being discussed. She also found it very interesting and worthwhile to have a wide variety of farm enterprises represented by the women in the class, including sheep, beef, fruits and vegetables.

June Bailey worked off-farm as a school food service director for over 30 years while her husband was heavily involved in managing and operating a multi-family swine operation. June saw a notice about the Annie's Project class at the Farm Credit office and contacted Maury Kaercher who helped her make plans to attend. He also told June that an acquaintance of hers was also planning to attend. The two women had fun sharing rides and talking about what they were learning. Interestingly, the women found their husband's each had different goals or expectations for what they would learn.

June thought her class of 15 women was a good sized group. It did not make any difference to her whether the speakers were men or women. She found the notebook very useful for organizing class materials and resources. She would also be willing to drive farther for Level II classes. She does prefer to have more than one session to allow time to process information.

June really liked True Colors and said, "Don't skip this part!" It was very insightful for her to realize her husband is Green and she is Gold. June said the best part of the Annie's Project class was that it opened up more communication with her husband about the farm business and he was able to answer many of her questions. June suggested that when facilitators ask the women to go home and talk to their families about a topic, that the facilitator then ask at the next class if there is anyone who would like to share those conversations or insights.

June's family farm had been on Tel-Farm for 80 years. When the Michigan farm management program was first computerized, June began to input data, but she never knew how the numbers were being used to analysis the farm business or make decisions.

Like other women who have few direct responsibilities with a farm business, June felt much of the class material went over her head. There were so many topics covered in any given class period that she often went home feeling overwhelmed and could sense the same feeling from some of her classmates. Even so, June stated, "I wanted more of everything." This was her opportunity to learn about the farm and she wanted more time, more details, more hands-on activities and more sessions. She suggested that facilitators be very choosy with the topics in order to allow more time for instructors go into enough detail to really be helpful and provide some good resources on covered topics.

When June arrived at the Annie's Project class, she was surprised to find that the wives of her husband's two young nephews had also enrolled. The nephews plan to take over management responsibilities of the multi-family farm someday. The nieces were particularly interested in learning more about farm financial matters and accounting processes. June discussed the farm balance sheet with her husband and asked about sharing it with the niece-in-laws, but that was not possible. As with many farm families, finances are not considered proper topics of conversation among female family members.

June is pleased the third generation family farm will continue to the fourth generation, unless the finances get bad. She does not have children, so she doesn't have to worry about who gets what. But she does want to plan for her husband's retirement and she does want to know if and how she will be taken care of by the family as she ages or possibly loses her husband prematurely. This is why she hopes Maury and the MI Extension will offer Level II Estate Planning classes that will help her learn about this from the woman's perspective.


Iowa State University Extension

Copyright © 2008, Iowa State
University Extension
Lani McKinney, Program Assistant
Ames, Iowa 50011
(515) 294-2136
All rights reserved.
Page last updated 11/30/10.