Excerpt from Educator’s mother the muse for Annie’s Project
by Nat Williams The Southern News Services Sep 22, 2015
Annette Kohlhagen Fleck died 18 years ago. But, she is still inspiring women every day.
Ruth Hambleton, her daughter, calls her the “muse” behind Annie’s Project, an educational program designed to help farm women navigate issues and challenges unique to them.
Hambleton started the non-profit organization in 2003 while working as a University of Illinois Extension educator in farm business management and marketing. She received a grant from the USDA aimed at helping women in rural areas.
There were 10 women in the first class. Hambleton estimates 10,000 women have since completed the 18-hour program, taught in 33 states. It touches on five risk management areas, from farm finances to retirement planning.
“I put this program together and my mother served as the muse,” said Hambleton, who is now an ag economics instructor at Southern Illinois University.
“I sat back in my office and thought, ‘Mom, what would you have needed to have a better experience in your role?’ And all this stuff came out…”
And how would Annie feel, knowing she has inspired a national program that has helped thousands of women?
“She would be so proud,” Hambleton said.