Project enhances business skills of women in agriculture

Farm Forum

The South Dakota State University Extension Office will hold a six-session business skills training seminar for women involved in agriculture this February and March at the Watertown Regional Extension Center.

Titled “Annie’s Project,” the training is aimed at “empowering women in agriculture,” and designed to “deliver technical training to farm and ranch women, enhancing their business skills,” and “develop a support network, which is essential for continuing education and self-help,” according to the Extension office.

The training includes sessions on developing an understanding of financial statements, retirement and estate planning, USDA programs, insurance, and training on Quicken Deluxe accounting software (with a copy of the software provided for each participant).

Karlys Wells, Annie’s Project volunteer at the SDSU extension office, said while the training is part of a statewide program, the training sessions to be held in Watertown will focus on the needs of farm families in the northeast part of the state. Beyond the business and financial training, Wells said attendees of previous training sessions across the state valued the support networks that were formed and strengthened across the training sessions. The six-session format was in part designed to help foster the feeling and community and support for participants as they progressed through their training and for the community built during the training to continue after its completion.

The training sessions are held in the evening, with meals provided to allow those with full-time day jobs to attend.

According to Wells, Annie’s Project is a national program, with trainings held in 34 states, including South Dakota. It has grown in South Dakota from two sites when it began in 2007 to 24 sites in 2014. In feedback provided six months or more after completing a training course, 74 percent said they are doing a significantly better job of tracking finances after participating in Annie’s Project, 63 percent have completed a financial analysis of their business, 77 percent have evaluated their estate plans, and 59 percent are using the marketing plans they created.

The training sessions will be from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 16, 22, and 29, and March 7, 14, and 21, with a possible snow date of March 28.

For more information on Annie’s Project, and for registration information, contact Karlys Wells, Annie’s Project Volunteer at the SDSU Extension Office, at 605-884-6694, or email at