Area Women Complete Annie's Project Program Offered by Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

April 5, 2017

Deb Kahler, ISU Extension Fayette County Office Manager, 

Fayette County Annie's Project

Twenty-six area farm women recently invested six weeks learning about how to make their farming operations more successful.

“While farm women have always been an integral part of agriculture, their role in managing farm operations continues to grow.  That’s why Iowa State University Extension recently offered Annie’s Project to farm women in northeast Iowa,” says Melissa O’Rourke, ISU’s Farm and Agribusiness Management Specialist.

Annie’s Project is a farm management risk education program designed for women and facilitated by women agriculture professionals.

O’Rourke describes Annie’s Project as a six-week program “intended to educate and empower farm women to be better business partners by managing and organizing critical information, improving decision-making skills, and networking with other farm women.”

Locally, the program was held at the Fayette County ISU Extension and Outreach office in Fayette. Women traveled from 6 counties in northeast Iowa to participate – Bremer, Buchanan, Chickasaw, Clayton, Fayette and Winneshiek.

Each session of Annie’s Project included brief presentations and extended discussions with women agriculture professionals on topics of importance to participants’ future in agribusiness. A wide variety of topics are covered such as building and understanding farm financial statements, grain marketing, USDA programs, agronomy basics, crop and farm business insurance, farmland leasing, farm transition, estate planning, property ownership and understanding personality traits.

The presenters included Kendra Crooks, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach; Emily Schwickerath, Bank Iowa; Gina Hanson, USDA-Farm Service Agency; Kristi Rupprecht and Janet Adams, Farm Credit Services of America; Nancy Franzen, Farm Bureau Financial Services; Aaron Anderson and Halley Williams USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service; Brittany Kuennen, Farmers Union Co-op; Amber Decker, Megan Bierschenk and Ellen Flickinger, Flint Hills Resources and Melissa O’Rourke, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

“We had a great group of women from northeast Iowa who made a commitment to learning about how to be better farm business partners and managers,” says O’Rourke. 

As one participant stated, “I came into the program fairly clueless. The information I have gained has opened up several conversations at home. I feel there is more potential for farming to be a family business rather than what my husband does!”

On the last evening of the program, each participant was congratulated on successful completion and honored with a certificate marking the accomplishment.

Of particular note, O’Rourke presented a certificate of appreciation to local coordinator Deb Kahler. “Deb was the local ‘boots on the ground’ who made this program successful in Fayette County,” said O’Rourke.

Program sponsors included Chickasaw County Farm Bureau, Bank Iowa, Farm Credit Services of America, Fayette County Farm Bureau, Crop Production Services and Flint Hills Resources.

It is hoped that future Annie’s Project programs can be offered in the area. ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag program offers other courses that cater to women such as Managing for Today and Tomorrow: Farm Transition Planning, Women Managing Cattle and Women Marketing Grain. For information about these and other ISU Extension and Outreach Women in Ag classes, go to

For information about this course and other programs being offered through Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Fayette County, contact Debra Kahler at 563-425-3331, or email

Photo Caption: Pictured are program participants who each received a certificate marking successful completion of the program: (Front row, left to right) Rozann Dallenbach and grandson, Garrett, Heather Maurer, Phyllis Massman, Delores Thom and Terri Gallup; (second row, left to right) Jeanne Stannard, Krysta Sandstrom, Kim Dittmer, Kelly Eick, Melisa Rau, Dani Wynthein, Leslie McCabe, Elizabeth A. McIntyre, Amanda Arthur, Susan Stevens and Amber Burlage; (third row, left to right) Danielle Friedlein, Leslie Wynthein, Roni Sue Koch, Sue Kuennen Massman, Dalene Gosse, Megan Schroeder, Nancy Franzen and Lisa Bahe.  Not available for photo: Bonnie Schroeder and Natalie Eick.


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