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Local food systems and small farms: Annie's project a success in Coles County

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CHARLESTON -- “Annie’s Project -- Education for Farm Women” was offered in Charleston for three weeks from Feb. 16 through March 3. The program, sponsored by the national Annie’s Project organization, the University of Illinois Extension and the Coles County Farm Bureau, was designed to help farm women develop their management and decision making skills in the dynamic, complex world of agriculture.

Women’s roles on farm operations have changed drastically over the past several decades, with more women taking active management roles. Nationally, one out of every seven farms is now managed by women.

The program was presented statewide at 14 locations, with 213 women completing the course, and in Coles County 15 women completed the course. A University of Illinois Extension statewide committee coordinated the program, presented through a hybrid of distance learning live statewide presentations with local coordinators inviting local experts to each class on the topic being presented.

Participants met for three weeks, two nights a week for 3 hours to learn about goal setting, business planning, family communications, keeping track of financial records, interpreting financial information, understanding insurance options, land values and leases, retirement and estate planning, risk management, and government programs. Local professionals that provided their expertise will serve as a resource for continued learning.

The program was so popular in Coles County, a waiting list was created for the next Annie’s Project class. In addition, the University of Illinois Extension and Coles County Farm Bureau plan to keep the participants engaged through advanced continuing education seminars and workshops.

If you have questions or would like to be placed on a contact list for the next Annie’s Project class and other farm management outreach programs, contact Dave Shiley at the University of Illinois Extension office in Arthur at 217-543-3755 or dshiley@illinois.edu , or Mary Cox at the Coles County Farm Bureau at 217-345-3276 or colesmgr@consolidated.net .

For more information contact Dave Shiley at 217-543-3755, or dshiley@illinois.edu.

For more information on University of Illinois Extension programming in Coles, Cumberland, Douglas, Moultrie and Shelby counties, visit our website at http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/index.html or call us at 217-345-7034.

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