All women farm groups look to empower women in agriculture - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

All women farm groups look to empower women in agriculture

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Marketing, balance sheets, and legal decisions are not the first things someone thinks about when it comes to farming but it's exactly what one group of women are in the process of learning about.

On Tuesday night, in Washington County, the first of six farm-related classes started. The classes are hosted through "Annie's Project" and the Iowa State University's Extension and Outreach Program. Annie's Project is a nonprofit organization that began in 2003 in Illinois. It looks to strengthen women roles on the farm and its enterprises.

Through the classes women will get a better understanding for human resource issues, business plans, financial documentation, property titles, cash and crop share leases, marketing plans, retirement and estate planning and types of insurance.

Washington County was the first county to host an Annie's Project meeting back in 2004. Tuesday's meeting marked the third time the county hosted, and the 101st meeting in the state as a whole. Since it began in 2003, Annie's Project now serves 33 states.

"We have people that are just newly married and they married and they've never been on the farm until their marriage. We've had some that are still in youth, maybe in high school, attend some of our classes. Then we've got retired women that just want to learn more about their information," Nancy Adrian said.

Adrian is the Washington County Extension Director and hosts the class alongside Ryan Drollette, ISU Extension and Outreach Farm Management Specialist.

"Individuals need to be educated to know what their options are to be able to make an informed decision and that's what we're trying to do is to help individuals to better their situation," Drollette said.

Both Adrian and Drollette agreed it's especially beneficial for women to partake in all-women classes because they're likely to feel more comfortable and share experiences. Women in Tuesday's class said they're often the only females when they attend other farm-related classes.

For Adrian, she understands the importance of being knowledge in the kind of things taught through Annie's Project. Years back, her husband was in a bad farming accident.

"He was loading grain on a small straight grain truck and he was kind of leveling it out on the top and we think that his pant leg got caught on something and he fell," she said.

He had suffered a traumatic brain injury and it would be a long road of recover for him which meant, despite having an off-the-farm job, she had to take over responsibilities for running the 500 acre farm. She said prior to that she left the decision making up to him.

"I needed to know more I needed to do more. It doesn't just do itself and so it was very helpful for me to get started with this," Adrian said.

Adrian's husband made a "miraculous" recovery and she said they now share more responsibilities on the farm.

The group will meet five more times. Adrian said women interested are still welcome to join the later classes. More information about the class and other women agriculture programs can be found here.

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