Annie's Project helps Ralls County woman navigate farm ownership

  • Published: Wednesday, March 22, 2023

CENTER, Mo. – When Jan Golian’s husband died of a heart attack in the middle of harvest season in 2004, friends and family helped her get the crop in and the cattle sold.

Her husband had always been the caretaker of the farm while she worked as a school librarian and teacher. She knew farm life and how to be a farm wife, but she didn’t know how to make informed decisions about the farm operation.

She reached out to University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist Al Kennett. He and other extension specialists helped her make decisions on leases, fences, livestock and other topics through classes and one-on-one meetings.

Kennett, now retired, recommended that she participate in Annie’s Project, a program designed to help women gain agricultural business skills.

“Annie’s Project educates and empowers women so they can have more confidence in decision-making for their farming operations,” says Karisha Devlin, MU Extension ag business specialist and state chairman of the national Annie’s Project program.

“Annie’s Project empowered me to find the information I need,” says Golian. “MU Extension offers experts who are objective and that I can trust. Because of the help I received from MU Extension, I can stay here on the farm.”

Over the years, Golian returned to MU Extension for knowledge to enrich her life through programs such as Master Gardeners. The Groovy Gardeners of Ralls County helped her learn how to build fruit and vegetable and flower gardens. Just as importantly, the club provides a social outlet. She’s expanded that need to learn with the Master Naturalists program and devoted an acre of land to native prairie restoration this year.

She wants to spread the word about the variety of programs such as Annie’s Project that improve the quality of life of Missourians and help them become lifelong learners.

Golian and other Annie’s Project graduates will celebrate the 20th anniversary of Annie’s Project 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, April 1, at the MU Lee Greenley Jr. Memorial Research Farm in Novelty. Register for the free event at

The national nonprofit program began in Illinois in 2003 and has reached more than 19,000 women in 38 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. MU Extension began offering Annie’s Project in 2005. Since then, more than 1,200 Missouri women completed the program.

For more information, contact your local MU Extension center or Karisha Devlin at 660-397-2179 or [email protected].

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Jan Golian of Center, Mo., says that after her husband died, she was able to stay on the farm, thanks in part to Annie’s Project, a program that helps women gain confidence and agricultural business skills. Annie’s Project celebrates its 20th anniversary April 1 at the MU Greenley Research Farm in Novelty. (File photo by Linda Geist.)

Writer: Linda Geist

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Karisha Devlin

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