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Annie's National Network Initiative for Educational Success
ANNIES E-News - March 12, 2010

Please join the ANNIES national leadership team for the next Educator Conference Call on Friday March 19th, at 2:00 pm Eastern time (1 Central, 12 Mountain, 11 Pacific).

The topic this month will be Level II programming for Estate, Transition and Succession Planning. The call in number is 866-809-4014/Pass code 2946161#.



ANNIES UPDATES: RMA Small Session Commodity Partnership Grants
FOCUS ON TEACHING: Testimonials are the Real Success Stories
CLASS MANAGEMENT: Keep the Data Coming
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Quality Education through Annie's Project in Ohio


RMA Small Session Commodity Partnership Grants
by Bob Wells

The request for applications (RFA) for small session commodity partnership grants was posted in the federal register on February 26. The RFA can be accessed through the USDA-Risk Management Agency web site: The small session applications are due by 5:00 PM on April 27, 2010.

Annie's Project teams in several states have been successful competing for these grants and using proceeds to fund Annie's Project in the following areas:

  • Delivery of Level I Annie's Project classes
  • State facilitator training (or retraining) and delivery of first Level I Annie's Project class
  • Development of unique Level II Annie's Project course addressing a new or emerging risk topic

The national goal of the program is to fund ten projects in each of the ten RMA regions across the country. The small session grants provide producers with training and information through existing or emerging risk management tools to help farmers make sound risk management decisions. While general requirements for each RMA region are consistent, this year each region is seeking special emphasis projects addressing specific regional needs. I would encourage you to read your region's special needs and address these needs through a stakeholder planning group. This approach should enhance your application's chances of being a successful project.

Annie's Project teams in several states have successfully adapted Iowa's proposal strategy. The Annie's Project facilitator web site has examples of successful applications that can be accessed at (look under the Grant Funding section).

The maximum award under this program is $10,000 and it doesn't take a lot of time to produce a successful application; making the effort worthwhile. While personnel at RMA are very familiar with Annie's Project and the impacts we deliver, you will need to fully involve your regional RMA staff as you prepare your plan of work. A word of caution - even though Annie's Project is well recognized within RMA as an effective risk management education program, you should still describe your project so an independent reviewer can easily see the risk management education and subsequent participant impacts of your application. As a last thought on the application process, remember the ANNIES team can assist you with the evaluation requirement for reporting impacts. Happy grant writing.


Testimonials are the Real Success Stories
by Ruth Hambleton

Last month I had the privilege to exhibit and present at Chicago Farmer's Farmland Investment Fair held at my alma mater, Joliet Junior College. It's clearly a man's world at this conference as farm management firms, attorneys, land investors and landowners converge on this annual day of exhibits and high power presentations. This year, the planning committee wanted to attract more women and worked with Annie's Project and Illinois AgriWomen to make this happen. Our Annie's Project display was well attended and yielded so many opportunities I now have two years worth of programming from one day of presentation and interaction. Permit me to share two situations.

The first involves a young woman, Lisa, who inherited her mother's farm. Her mother was not involved with the farm very much when her husband died and so inherited, as many women do, many decisions she was not prepared to make. She hired a farm manager. This farm manager must now work with Lisa who wants to be actively involved. Lisa is very capable and has set her goal to manage this resource on her own. She is excited to join the next Annie's Project in her part of the state.

The second is a woman who inherited a farm along with two other sisters and a brother who is currently the farmer. She is trying her very best to understand the business, but her brother is not the one who is going to teach her. To learn, she enrolled in a farm management course (in a formal class room) where she felt out of her comfort zone and that things were over her head. Annie's Project was designed for women like her and I am pleased she too will join the next class in her area.

At this same event, I also enjoyed being introduced to the farmer who enrolled his future bride in Annie's Project in 2007 and put a ring on her finger by the time the fourth meeting rolled around.

Why do we share testimonials? I've shared cold hard statistics indicating impact, but the real Annie's Project successes are the stories of being able to instill hope, a sense of control, and purpose in these women who own one of the most valuable assets on earth.

Check out some of our other testimonials on our website at:


Keep the Data coming
by Lani McKinney

Student Help
Early this year, we welcomed two students, Jordann Wenzel and Jolene Glenn, to assist us for a few hours each week with our data entry and ordering processes. The jump from managing 80 classes in 2009 to 80 classes between January and March of 2010 required some extra assistance. We are excited this means Annie's Project is being delivered to more women in agriculture needing assistance with risk management. Thanks to everyone for the role you play in delivering a successful Annie's Project experience.

Thank You
Also a big thank you to all of you who have collected and submitted data from your classes and submitted them to us here at the national ANNIES office. This will help us have more accurate numbers when the need arises to generate statistics to support the success of our program. If I have not received your data, please send it to me as soon as possible. If you have not yet received your reports, rest assured they will be coming soon. We are working to get them to you as quickly as possible.


Quality Education through Annie's Project in Ohio
by Madeline Schultz

"Women know when they see that logo that they will be getting quality education from a reliable source," says Julia Woodruff, Ohio State University (OSU) Extension Educator in Agriculture and Natural Resources, "There is great value in presenting Annie's Project as a program that is similar from state to state and county to county." Julia Woodruff and Doris Herringshaw, OSU Educator in Family and Consumer Sciences, believe it is important for Annie's Project and the OSU Extension to be connected. This builds name recognition in the state for both Annie's Project and Extension.

Teamwork Led to First Ohio Classes

Her leadership with the Ohio Women in Agriculture Conference led Doris to Annie's Project. She heard Bob Wells speak about Annie's Project at a National Women in Agriculture Educators Conference and invited him to share the project at the Northwest Ohio Women in Ag Program. The response? Doris remembers women saying, "We need this kind of information, and we need it now!" After hearing Ruth Hambleton speak at the 2006 National Association of County Agriculture Agents AM/PIC conference in Cincinnati, OH, Julia was immediately captivated by the program. She learned Doris was the state coordinator and contacted her. The two Extension educators and farm women had never met before, but they both knew there was a need for and an audience for Annie's Project in Ohio and teamed up to begin planning classes. Doris and Julia were thankful they had the Annie's National Leadership Team to call on. "Ruth and Bob have been great help in getting Annie's Project rolling in Ohio; they have been supportive, answered questions, and provided encouragement as we started our workshops," Julia shared.

"Doris and I have led the statewide movement for Annie's Project, but local Annie's Project facilitators have been very important to the success of the workshops throughout the past four years," relates Julia. Each local workshop has been adapted by local educators to fit needs of women in the community. For example, not all classes include grain marketing, but may include milk marketing or direct marketing sessions. Currently Ohio educators are facilitating an Annie's Project class directed towards women involved in Ohio's green industry (greenhouse growing of food and ornamental plants). Julia reported the class was actually very similar to a standard Annie's Project class, but included examples relevant to the industry and green industry speakers. The class also addressed retail marketing and other specific needs.

A focus on farm family communication has been one of the unique aspects of Annie's Project in Ohio. Fortunately, Dr. Bernie Erven, OSU Emeriti, has been available to teach at many of the workshops and the topic has been well received by the farm women. "Bernie is a great teacher of family communications through story telling" says Doris, "He gives women the approach and the confidence to have these family discussions." The women identify with Dr. Erven's explanations of their husband's communication styles. He encourages women to concentrate on and ask the hard questions. "It is always a very eye opening experience and in some cases very troubling for families," relays Doris.

Educators and Partners Buy-in to Annie's Project

The biggest change Doris and Julia see since the first Annie's Project classes were offered in 2007 is the buy-in from other Extension educators throughout the Ohio system. When they put out a call for local facilitators to host classes this winter, they received over 20 responses. "We had a tenured educator, who is currently facilitating a class, comment that this is one of the most rewarding programs he has been associated with throughout his career!" exclaimed Julia. The Ohio Extension system is pleased with the commitment both Family and Consumer Science and Agricultural educators have given Annie's Project. Doris believes commitment from both program areas is essential to meet the interests and needs of the farm women. Doris and Julia agree it has been nice to work together and offer their expertise to these women.

Annie's Project achieved success in the state and this helped to bring in new educators. Ohio also adapted North Dakota's facilitator guide to assist new educators. The Ohio team is currently developing an online version of the guide. Doris and Julia have also presented posters at conferences and written articles for state newsletters to help get the word out about Annie's Project. Julia commented, "The impacts have spoken for themselves and helped to bring in new educators."

The Ohio agriculture media has provided good coverage of upcoming Annie's Project classes as well as follow-up articles. For example, recently the Farm Bureau published the following online article - OFBF Lends Support to Annie's Project- and FarmWorld published this online article - Annie's Project Will Empower Ohio Women to Manage Farms. The Ohio educator team has received excellent feedback from participating farm women. "Our administrators have seen the impacts and have bought into this program," says Julia. The OSU Assistant Director of Extension to Agriculture and Natural Resources, Don Breece, taught at six Annie's Project classes in 2007. He experienced workshops firsthand and has become a big supporter of the program. The Ohio Annie's Project has also received important financial and public relations support from Farm Bureau, Ag Credit, Farm Credit, Farm Service Agency and other partner organizations.

Doris says each and every class is a little different. She remembers at one of the classes a majority of the women participants had inherited property along with another sibling who was making all the decisions. After the session on crop insurance, one woman met with a crop insurance agent and asked a lot of questions. She determined what was best for her part of the farm. The agent later told Doris, "Most women do not have the knowledge to ask such in-depth questions." This experience gave the woman confidence to make many more decisions about the farm operation.

Another class Doris facilitated had a lot of dairy farmers who purchased in-puts. "I spent a whole night on grain marketing and I thought I was in trouble after the program," shares Doris. But the women all said the discussion helped them learn a lot and they gained a new appreciation for each other's situations, too. They better understood the financial implications of producing, marketing and feeding grain.

The Ohio Extension educators are just beginning to work with the Ohio Agriwomen and a new organization for women, the Ohio Farm Women Consortium. "These groups offer good ways to spread the information about upcoming workshops and another networking opportunity for women in agriculture," shared Julia.

Quality Education for the Future

As Doris and Julia look to the future of Annie's Project in Ohio, their teamwork continues to lead the program. "Our challenge now is to develop the next level of Annie's Project classes to engage an audience that is asking for more educational opportunities," relates Julia. They are currently developing a Level II financial risk management workshop and applied to North Central Risk Management Education Center for grant funds to support this work.

The two leaders are also working with the Extension Communication and Technology Department to have a stronger web presence. Timing of program delivery is another challenge. Some planned winter workshops had to be cancelled due to low registration numbers. Annie's Project did not get a good response for two afternoon classes offered this winter, but evening sessions were better received. Also, they felt they may have started classes too early in January.

The Ohio educators value the opportunity to gain new ideas, learn about funding sources, and hear from other states through participation in the Annie's National Network Initiative for Educational Success (ANNIES). Doris and Julia have served as guest speakers and learned much from other educators on the ANNIES educator conference calls. They hope to continue networking across the county to bring the best ideas to Ohio.

The Ohio Educators believe Annie's Project brings out more than their passion for education. It also allows them to share their passion for agriculture and collaborate with experts and this is what makes the program successful. Annie's Project has provided Extension with a spring board to new possibilities for women involved in agriculture in Ohio. Doris commented, "We are looking forward to writing the next chapter with farm women across the state."

ANNIES E-News is provided as a service to Annie's Project state/regional Coordinators and local class Facilitators by these Annie's National Network Initiative for Educational Success team members:

We welcome your comments and suggestions.


Iowa State University Extension

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Lani McKinney, Program Assistant
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Page last updated 11/30/10.