AMES, Iowa – Nicole Jonas operates Red Granite Farm with her young family in Boone, Iowa. As a self-described owner, laborer and chief of everything, Jonas runs the business with help from her husband, who works full time off the farm. Jonas likes the size the business is now. She and her husband strive to produce all they can on the land they have while maximizing the best uses of her time and expertise.
That’s where the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Women in Ag Program comes in. Jonas participated in a business planning course for women.
“The best part for me was the jump start on the business plan,” Jonas said. “I always meant to write one, but never started on it. In other classes we were strongly encouraged to write one, but never forced.”
Before taking the course, she felt like her business was really just a sideline.
“Taking the class helped me get things lined up, focused and turned around,” Jonas said. “It made me realize things I needed to be doing or be doing better on Red Granite Farm and helped me focus on it as a real business.”
The next Women Planning Ag Businesses class is coming to Ames, Feb. 3 through March 3, 2018. Over four weeks, the class covers five areas of business planning: 1) the business description and how the business will make money, 2) operations and production, 3) personnel and labor management, 4) marketing plan and 5) financial projections. A local farm tour is scheduled for the fifth and final session. During the program, women will draft their own business plans for start-up, continuing or expanding businesses.
“By bringing local professionals into the classroom as well as women who share a desire to start or grow their agricultural businesses, we help women develop new networks to help them achieve business success,” said Margaret Smith, program specialist with ISU Extension and Outreach’s Value Added Agriculture program.
Along with presentations, there will be in-class activities and discussions based on participant questions, as well as follow-up activities to complete at home.
The class is open to women across the state, and taught on Saturdays to make travel time easier. Sessions will be held at the Iowa Cattlemen’s Association located at 2055 Ironwood Court, Ames, Iowa, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Feb. 3, 10, 17 and 24, with the tour on March 3. The registration cost is $75 and includes lunches and course materials.
The Women in Ag program understands women are interested in starting, growing and diversifying agricultural businesses.
“This requires careful planning and accessing helpful advisers and useful planning tools,” said Madeline Schultz, Women in Ag program manager.
ISU Extension and Outreach is partnering with the USDA Farm Service Agency in Iowa to link course participants with SCORE volunteer mentors.
“This will be a unique opportunity for class participants to gain one-to-one business mentoring by seasoned professionals,” said Schultz.
Support from Farm Credit Services of America and the USDA Risk Management Agency helps keep course costs low. Those interested in the Women Planning Ag Businesses class can contact Schultz at 515-294-0588.
Photo caption: Madeline Schultz, Women in Ag program manager, left, presents a certificate of accomplishment to Nicole Jonas, Red Granite Farm. Jonas put her business skills to work after participating in an ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag class.