Non-profit foundation offers resources to educate and empower women in agriculture 

Annie’s Project started 20 years ago with the mission to equip women in agriculture for success through education, networks and resources. Since its inception, Annie’s Project has grown in scope and size, educating 19,000 women through the years. The non-profit foundation offers curriculum in 38 states and one U.S. territory. “We try to offer a variety of ways for women to continue that learning process and we do it in an environment where women are really comfortable,” Dr. Karisha Devlin, Annie’s Project Co-CEO, explained. 

Designed for Women

 The courses are designed for and offered specifically to women. “Sometimes agriculture can be a lonely place, being a woman in a field that is still primarily male dominated can be a little intimidating at times,” Dr. Devlin said. 

The educational experiences are presented by trained facilitators who work to ensure the women participants have a safe harbor to learn and ask questions. “Just bringing women together to be that network for each other and that support helps boost their confidence and empower them,” Devlin stated. “And that’s in a nutshell what Annie’s project is all about is educating and empowering women in agriculture for them to be successful in whatever role that they want to have.”

Project Origins

Annie’s Project was created to honor the memory of Annette Kohlhagen Fleck, a farmer, teacher, wife and mother who grew up in a small town in Northern Illinois. Annette’s daughter, a longtime university extension educator, developed Annie’s Project to honor her mother’s life and farming legacy. Annette was known for being a farm business partner with her husband, a diligent record keeper and number cruncher. She guided the family’s farm to much success with her knowledge and business acumen. 

Course Offerings

 The original Annie’s Project offering is Annie’s 101, an 18-hour class that delves into ag business topics including risk management, communications, marketing, business plans, crop and livestock insurance and financial records and statements. “It helps them to make good sound decisions and mitigate risk for their operations,” Devlin said. 

Through the years, Annie’s Project expanded it courses into other areas. Annie’s II takes a more in-depth look at the original topics and Annie’s III explores retirement, transitioning the farm, as well as business and estate planning. “It has always been such a fun series of classes to teach because the women are like sponges and they are there to learn, they are there to go deep, they are there to ask questions,” Dr. Devlin shared. “They are comfortable sharing about their farming operations. It leads to great discussion in the class because of their openness and their willingness to ask questions.” 

Though the information women glean from the courses is valuable, the networking opportunities Annie’s Project provides may be even more meaningful. “One thing that is really fun to watch is the women seem to learn as much from each other as they do from the educators and presenters that are there at each class because all the women coming in have their own life experiences and their own skills to share, that’s always a lot of fun,” Devlin shared. 

Annie’s Project celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The non-profit organization continues to train new facilitators and expand its in-person and online course offerings. University extension is used as the primary vehicle to offer the classes across the country. For a list of classes visit the website at 


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