Today, Sara is living back in the community where she grew up, taking on a new adventure in farming. She has a purebred Charolais cow/calf herd and a corn and soybean row-crop operation. Her father has since passed away.
Brandi and her husband are fifth-generation farmers on their family farm. Her mother Rexanne runs her veterinary business. Brandi, her husband and her father run the farm. Here is what she had to say after taking the Annie’s Managing for Today and Tomorrow program.
“This has given us a lot of information to look for the future…talking about transitioning from mom and dad down to my husband and I. We never think that mom and dad are going to get old or that they can’t take care of everything.
My husband and I are looking for a future…they talked about the transition and how family farms work… We would love to see this family farm stay in the family for generations to come… It’s a passion and a lifestyle.”
Much of the program’s success is in its design, however the trained facilitators are a key component of carrying out that design. They bring in skilled experts who understand the concept of the program. They are also the ones who take responsibility for adapting information to their specific area.
Several state coordinators recognized some needs and implemented a solution that has made Annie’s Project available to women who might otherwise have missed out. Due to the demographics in some states, attending the program could involve as much as three to four hours or more driving per session.
In other instances women found it very difficult to arrange for babysitting or being away for six evenings over a course of six weeks. Both these were addressed by the development of retreat-style Annie’s Projects. While these vary slightly from place to place, the basic arrangements are the same.
Women drive (or sometimes even fly) to the destination. They receive the same hours of high-quality training, but over the course of two to three days. When done, they return home. It has been quite successful thanks to the hard work and creativity of all involved.
The organization responsible for development, coordination and support of these programs is Annie’s Project Education for Farm Women (APEFW). Their mission is to empower farm women to be better business partners through networks and by managing and organizing critical information.
APEFW programs have been offered for fifteen years. The programs have proven to have a significant impact, assisting women in developing skills in the areas of information management, financial documents, land ownership and leasing, and marketing commodities. Annie’s Project graduates have learned about estate planning, value added agriculture, and management processes and decisions needed to make successful farm or ranch transitions.
“Annie’s Project audiences have told us their top concerns with farm operations are the debt loads and transition/retirement/estate planning issues. Helping women understand their value and managing finances wisely to reach family goals and finally their legacy is the goal of Annie’s Project.” – Ruth Hambleton, Founder and President of APEFW.
Annie was a woman who grew up in a small town in Northern Illinois. Her goal was to marry a farmer and she did. Annie spent her lifetime learning how to be an involved business partner with her farm husband.
Together they did great things, but it wasn’t easy. This is Annie’s Project – to take her experiences and share them with farm women living and working in a complex business. You can read Annie’s Story and learn more about the organization and its programs by visiting www.anniesproject.org.