Annie’s Project helps women succeed in agriculture
- Hot Spring County is offering Annie’s Project courses to strengthen women’s roles in agriculture
- The course covers areas of agricultural risk and other skills needed to run a farm operation
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MALVERN, Ark. – Exploring the move from hobby farm to farm-for-profit is what drew Angela Berryhill to Annie’s Project.
Annie’s Project, a nonprofit resource, teaches women the skills needed to run a successful farm operation, including how to assess agricultural risk and hands-on skills like soil sampling. This spring, Rachel Bearden, Hot Spring County extension staff chair for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, began hosting Annie’s Project classes at the county’s 4-H center.
In Arkansas, 32 percent of farms have women at the helm and the state’s 22,228 women farmers have a $538 million economic impact in Arkansas, according to USDA’s 2012 Census of Agriculture.
Berryhill and her family run a hay and beef cattle operation in Hot Spring County.
“I joined the class to get a better understanding of the aspects of farming that I am inexperienced in,” Berryhill said. “Right now, we only have what is classified to be a hobby farm, and we hope to start a profitable farming business.”
Berryhill is one of a baker’s dozen who have signed up for Bearden’s classes.
“Being a woman in agriculture has a had a stigma for so many years of being the ‘farmer's wife’ or the ‘farmer's daughter.’ Personally, I am proud to have both titles, but I am even more proud to be just a ‘farmer,” Bearden said. “While there is nothing wrong with being a farmer's wife or daughter, Annie's project gives women the resources to be a successful farmer. By becoming a knowledgeable farmer, not only will they be a better partner in their operations, but they will be prepared should the worst happen to their partner.”
Diana Davidson is another who signed up for Annie’s Project.
"I’m a beginner farmer’s wife and would like to get as much information on how to help my husband with managing budget and operation,” Davidson said, adding that she saw Annie’s Project as a networking opportunity "to get to know other ladies in agriculture"
Berryhill said she appreciated learning “hands-on training (for) such things as giving immunizations, taking hay and soil samples, and backing a trailer. It has been also helpful to learn about resources that are available to farmers through such places as the USDA, Farm Credit of Arkansas, the U of A Cooperative Extension, and local banks.
“I hope that I learn to use resources available to me, as well as the information learned in this program to start a successful and profitable farm business for my family,” said Berryhill.
The first Hot Spring County Annie’s Project course took place April 26 the 4-H Youth Center in Malvern and was continuing every Thursday night through the end of May.
For more information, contact Rachel Bearden at 501-332-5267.
About the Division of Agriculture
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture’s mission is to strengthen agriculture, communities, and families by connecting trusted research to the adoption of best practices. Through the Agricultural Experiment Station and the Cooperative Extension Service, the Division of Agriculture conducts research and extension work within the nation’s historic land grant education system.
The Division of Agriculture is one of 20 entities within the University of Arkansas System. It has offices in all 75 counties in Arkansas and faculty on five system campuses.
The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture offers all its Extension and Research programs to all eligible persons without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.
By Emily Thompson
U of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Ryan McGeeney
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service