Professional Development - Holistic Management Training

Final Report for ENC02-063

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2002: $146,300.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $79,500.00
Region: North Central
State:
Project Coordinator:
Benjamin Bartlett
Michigan State University
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Project Information

Abstract:

Summary: Eleven of the twelve SARE supported people completed the training and have become Certified Holistic Management® Educators. The post project evaluation indicated that the participants could teach the core components of Holistic Management® well or extremely well. They said they were not as confident to teach the management guidelines or tools of the Holistic Management® Model. This learning was extended to over 200 people in learning groups with over 2/3 of the learning group participants creating a holistic goal. There has been an informal network of NCR educators created and extension educators are more active as compared to campus based or NGO individuals.

Project Objectives:

Short Term Outcomes

1. Educator Awareness: Candidates understand the importance and usefulness of individual farmers and community members considering the “whole” making decisions and developing plans that move their community and farming practices as a whole towards greater vitality and sustainability.

2. Educator Knowledge: Candidates learn how to use the Holistic Management for decision making, holistic goal setting and planning and monitoring processes. Candidates establish and facilitate Holistic Management to Learning Groups composed of farmers, agricultural professionals and other community members.

3. Educator Attitudes: Candidates begin to experience a paradigm shift after learning how to define the whole under management: (a) be defining the decision makers as people who make decisions, and those who have veto power; (b) by considering people as part of their resource base by determining who influences their decisions and who is influenced/effected by their decisions and by (c) learning there is no “right” way but only a best decision and the need to monitor and replan.

4. Educator Skills: Candidates learn how to: incorporate a variety of learning styles into their facilitation skills; learn Holistic Management decision-making and planning processes; learn similarities/differences regarding issues of concern, what worked/did not in the Northeast.

Intermediate Outcomes

Educator Behavior and Practice

1. Candidates meet with Learning Groups and facilitate the learning and use of Holistic Management to help groups develop plans for farms, ranches, food systems, forest stewardship, conservation, watersheds and other issues of relevance to the community.

2. Candidates make presentations with members of their Learning Groups during conferences and during other relevant events during the second year of project.

3. Candidates monitor implementation of plans of Learning Groups- help replan when indicated.

4. Candidates consult with each other, their Learning Groups, and the greater community network to insure and sustain the on going work of Learning Groups and the regional network of Holistic Management practitioners. Candidates coordinate case study documentation to include information useful and relevant to the needs and expectations of the Learning Groups as well as the greater community.

5. Candidates work with their Learning Groups to produce documentation of the plans they have designed and implemented.

Long Term Outcomes

1. A network of Learning Groups of Holistic Management practitioners is maintained throughout the region. The network includes farmers, community members, Cooperative Extension Service and NRCS professional staff, and staff of nonprofit community resource organizations. The network of Learning Groups works together to revitalize and sustain agriculture, economic, social and ecological systems in the North Central States.

2. Holistic Management Certified Educators are available to help farmers, community groups, organizations, colleagues and other agricultural professionals learn comprehensive decision making, holistic goal setting, financial planning, land use planning, management, monitoring and policy information.

3. Farmers, agricultural professionals, community leaders and community members will expand their abilities to make decisions and work together to develop plans that consider the long-term and short-term effects their decisions and actions will have on ecosystems, social systems, economic systems and people’s quality of life.

4. An increased case study documentation and cumulative knowledge base regarding how to use Holistic Management to move agriculture and rural America towards greater levels of sustainability. This knowledge base provides a guide for others seeking to sustain their culture, agriculture and communities regionally and worldwide.

Introduction:

The challenge of sustainable farming and livestock production is for producers to find the “right” balance of profitability, being environmentally friendly and the desired quality of life. Employing comprehensive decision making, planning and monitoring processes are critical to finding this balance because sustainable farming is unique to every farm, family, and community. Most agriculture professionals bring a wealth of how-to and technical skills to farmers. The current norm is for educators to introduce and for producers to try new ideas and practices on a piece meal basis. Our current SARE program has many examples where producers were not able to balance profitability, environmental considerations, and quality of life factors. For example, producers started a direct marketing program but did not consider the impact on their quality of life, or switched to a new crop or new method of production but did not consider the new marketing barriers, or undertaken a new tillage system without adequate consideration for changes in soil warming, new weed pressure or need for additional equipment. Previous attempts to look at planning for the whole has focused on the planning system instead of building skills in people to think, act, and manage a “whole” system. There is a need for a way to balance the whole when making decisions.

The key component of this project is the professional development of 12 (amended from the original proposal of 15) candidates as certified educators in Holistic Management®. In addition to their training, they will in turn share their information with the 60 to 72 people in their learning groups. They will also share their learning experience in Holistic Management® via articles, workshop presentations, and case studies. The residual of this effort will be a network of certified educators who have created various learning communities that can continue the work of making decisions that should enhance a more sustainable agriculture.
To enhance the ability of farmer educators to help farmers make balanced decisions we chose to use the Savory Center Holistic Management® training services. They have developed this program over a 15 year period and have specifically worked with agriculture and rural communities. Their decision making and planning systems consider the long and short term effect of decisions on the ecosystem, farm profitability, and the quality of life for people and their communities. This profession development plan had been supported by a majority of the NCR state professional development coordinators and others who had on-going or past projects that incorporated Holistic Management®. In an informal survey to gauge the level of interest in participating in this very demanding professional development program the number of people interested were adequate but not overwhelming.

Literature Review

Benton, Valerie, (editor) et.al. (2001) SARE; The American Farmer; USDA Publication; pgs. 65; 106 and 128.

Freyenberger, S. and Janke, R., 1997. “Indicators of Sustainability in Whole-Farm Planning: Planning Tools,” Paper No. 1. Kansas Sustainable Agriculture Series: 1-25

Freyenberger, S., Janke, R., and Norman, D., 1997. “Indicators of Sustainability in Whole-Farm Planning: Literature Reveiew.” Paper No. 2. Kansas Sustainable Agriculture Series: 1-23.

Higgins, E., 1998. Whole Farm Planning: A Survey of North American Experiments. Policy Study Reports No. 9. Greenbelt, Maryland: The Henry A. Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture.

Higgins, E., 1997. “New Report Examines Nine Farm Planning Models.” The Whole Farm Planner 2(3): 6-9

Jannink, J., 1997. “What Motivates Farmers to Engage in Whole Farm Planning?” The Whole Farm Planner 2(3): 1-3

Kemp, L., 1996. Successful Whole Farm Planning Interdisciplinary Team, 1998. How to Establish Goals: A Group Project for Farmers and Their Families. St. Paul, Minnesota. The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.

The Land Stewardship Project, 1998. The Monitoring Tool Box. White Bear Lake, Minnesota.

MacKenzie, J., 1998. “Holistic Management Is Core of Planning Program in Kansas,” The Whole Farm Planner 3(2):5

MacKenzie, J., 1998. “Quality of Life Modules.” The Whole Farm Planner 3(2):4

MacKenzie, J., 1997. “In Ohio, Holistic Thinking Extends Beyond Farm Boundaries.” The Whole Farm Planner 2(1): 1-2

MacKenzie, J. and Kemp, L., 1999. Whole Farm Planning at Work: Success Stories of 10 Farms. St. Paul, Minnesota. The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.

Miller, M., 1998. “NRCS Sessions on Whole Farm Planning.” The Whole Farm Planner 3(2):3

Mulla, D., Everett, L., and DiGiacomo, G., 1997. Whole Farm Planning: Combining Family, Profit, and Environment. St. Paul, Minnesota: The Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture (MISA).

North, K., 1998. “Holistic Resource Management Explained.” The Whole Farm Planner 3(1):3

Stinner, D., Stinner, B., and Martsolf, E., 1997. “Biodiversity as an organizing principle in agro ecosystem management: Case studies of holistic resource management practitioners in the USA.” Agriculture Ecosystems& Environment 62:199-213

Sullivan, P., 1999. “Holistic Management: A Whole-Farm Decision-Making Framework.” Fundamentals of Sustainable Agriculture. Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Affairs (ATTRA):1-12

University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1998. Whole Farm Planning: An Overview Workshop. Module 5 Quality of Life Workshop Modules. Madison, Wisconsin: Program on Agricultural Technology Studies.

Univeristy of Wisconsin-Madison, 1998. Whole Farm Planning Systems Case Study: The Frantzen Family’s Farm Planning Workbook. Module 6 Quality of Life Workshop Modules. Madison, Wisconsin: Program on Agricultural Technology Studies.

Web Sites

www.sare.org (Download PDF format The New American Farmer)

www.attra.org/attra-pub/hholistic.html (Attra’s web site on Holistic Management and Whole Farm Planning)

www.holisticmanagement.org (The Allan Savory Center for Holistic Management

www.misa.umn/~mnproj/wfp (General information on whole farm planning with links to recent publications, work in the Great Lakes States and relevant web sites.)

www.misa.umn.edu/~lsp (Land Stewardship Project)

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Heather Amundson
  • Juli Brusell
  • Marquita Chamblee
  • Steve Dahlberg
  • Larry Dyer
  • Terry Gompert
  • Andy Hager
  • Chris Norman
  • Laura Paine
  • Paul Swanson
  • Tobey Williamson

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

This project was designed to train a wide variety of farmer/producer educators who could enhance producer’s sustainable decision making capacity. The variety of educators would include extension, RC & D personnel, university staff, and NGO agriculture individuals. Unfortunately there were not any NRCS individuals that applied and were accepted into the program. The sustainable decision making model utilized was Holistic Management® created by The Savory Holistic Management® Center over the last 15 years. The goal of this program was to make a significant investment in a few individuals over an extended period with the educators making both a major time and monetary contribution. It was felt this would create a network of very committed educators that could support each other and foster an ongoing program.

To accomplish this, The Savory Center took applications for the program and with PI consultation selected the candidates for the 2002 Certified Educator Holistic Management® program. The program included four different six day residential sessions during the first year. During this time, it was expected that each educator would work with local learning group to teach what they had learned during their intensive sessions and do articles and workshops about Holistic Management®. The fifth and last session was held approximately one year after the first four sessions. In addition to The Savory Center planned sessions, the NCR group also organized an extra three day session during the time between the first four sessions and the fifth or final evaluation session.

The material covered in the sessions was as follows:

Session 1 - defining the whole under management, writing a Holistic goal, understanding all the components of the Holistic Management® model including the ecosystem processes, ecosystem tools, testing questions, management guidelines, planning procedures and monitoring.

Session 2 – financial planning and wealth generation. This included identifying logjams, determining gross profits, assessing enterprises holistically, determining the weak financial weak link-resource, product, or marketing, and developing and monitoring a financial plan.

Session 3 – biological planning with an in depth study of the ecosystem processes, biological monitoring, Holistic Land Planning® and Holistic Grazing Planning® .

Session 4 - Holistic Management® policy analysis and design. Working with groups and how to influence policy for sustainable solutions. All participants were required to complete a written review of their learning progress as a mid-term effort, do a case study, and prepare a Learning Portfolio of their learning contract activities. Each session was taught by a different set of instructors from across the USA, Canada, South Africa and Australia. In addition, the Savory Center provided a class instructor/coordinator and a class mentor.

Because of the significant investment that SARE was making in each person, it was felt that the students needed to also make a monetary commitment. Each student was responsible for travel to and from the training sessions. Making the travel funds non-SARE also allowed us to move the training sessions outside the NCR. The second and the fourth session were held in Wisconsin, the biological or third session was in Texas. The Texas location provided a unique environment for the biological session and also allowed the students to attend a two day Holistic Management® gathering hosted by the Texas Holistic Management® organization. The final session was held in Australia, again at the students own travel cost. Of the twelve SARE funded students, nine students made the trip to Australia and also attended and made presentations at an international conference sponsored by LandCare Australia. Two of the three students not making the trip to Australia made alternative arrangements to complete the fifth session.

Outreach and Publications

There were no new publications created at this time by this project or the participants.

Outcomes and impacts:

The evaluation consultants who did the evaluation of the NESARE Holistic Management Project, (PDP grant ENE01-061) were contracted to do a similar evaluation of the NCR SARE PDP Holistic Management Training program. The evaluators worked with the NCR PDP coordinator before the evaluation was done to make it as effective as possible. The following material is their report:

Evaluation Tools

Three instruments were used to measure the learning and behavior outcomes achieved by the participants. These tools were completed in November 2005; nearly two years after the final training session that occurred in December of 2003.

Tool 1 is Teaching Evaluation Results. This on-line survey asked respondents to rate how the training program prepared them to teach the components of the Holistic Management® framework. The tool used a five point Likert scale where “1” equaled not at all able to teach as a result of the training, “3” equaled the training program prepared them at a satisfactory level to teach, and “5” indicated that the training program prepared the participant extremely well to teach the different aspects of the Holistic Management® framework.

The first tool also collected data on the participants’ pre-training expertise levels in farm management, grazing, and their ability to communicate effectively with farmers. Participants were asked to self assess whether their expertise levels were high, medium or low in these areas. This section was included in the tool to see if there was a correlation between the participants’ pre-training skill levels and their post-training abilities to teach the different components of the Holistic Management® framework, particularly the Holistic Financial Planning, Holistic Planned Grazing, and Holistic Land Planning components.

An Analysis of Variance (ANOVA) was performed to see if there were statistically significant correlations. Appendix D features graphs of pre-training expertise levels compared to post-training abilities to teach the different components of the Holistic Management® framework.

The second tool used to evaluate the impact of the training program was a retrospective survey and is attached as Appendix G – Holistic Management® Retrospective Survey. This tool was developed to measure changes in the participants who teach farmers. Because NCR-SARE focuses on building capacity in sustainable agriculture for farmer educators and agency personnel, this tool was specifically focused only at those SARE funded participants who teach farmers.

The retrospective survey asked respondents to think about how they worked with farmers before the training and then after the training. A four point Likert scale was used where “1” equaled they had never done the item in question with farmers, “2” equaled they sometimes did the item, “3” equaled they usually did the item and “4” indicated that they always did the item in question.

The third and final tool developed is attached as Appendix H and is entitled Holistic Management® Farm Checklist. This tool was developed to measure the components of the Holistic Management® framework farmers actually completed through their work with program participants. The tool also sought to collect information on why farmers did not complete an aspect of the framework when this information was available.

To assess why farmers did not complete any component of the framework, participants were given a list of reasons to choose from and asked to check all that applied. The options as why a farmer did not complete a certain component included: resistance to new ideas, lack of time, lack of understanding of the concept, lack of instructor’s ability, lack of perceived value, not sure and other. If the category “other” was checked, participants were asked to type in a reason.

Hot links to all three tools were sent via email to all the SARE funded participants. Three additional emails were sent as reminders and encouragement to fill out the surveys. Ten of the 12 SARE funded participants filled out the tools that were applicable to their work.

Evaluation Results

Teaching Evaluation Results:

Nine participants filled out the on-line survey entitled Teaching Evaluation Results. Of these respondents, four worked for Cooperative Extension, three were private consultants and three indicated other (RC&D, Tribal College and university administrator). A variety of the “primary audiences” taught were identified by the respondents; seven identified farmers, four identified landowners, three identified students, and the remaining responses identified community members, Extension, NRCS and/or NGO organizational staff as the primary audiences taught.

Items where the average rating “to teach as a result of the training” was high (4 or above) included:

•The holistic goal – average rating was 4.4 out of 5, with 89% of respondents (8) feeling that the training program prepared them well to teach this topic and 1 respondent (11%) feeling they were prepared at a satisfactory level.

•The foundation principals behind Holistic Management - average rating was 4.3 out of 5, with 89% of respondents (8) feeling that the training program prepared them well to teach this topic and 1 respondent (11%) feeling they were prepared at a satisfactory level.

•The whole under management – average rating was 4.1 out of 5, with 77% of respondents (7) feeling that the training program prepared them well to teach this topic and 2 respondents (22%) rating a satisfactory preparation.

•The ecosystem processes - average rating was 4.1 out of 5, with 56% of respondents (5) feeling that the training program prepared them well to teach this topic and 44% (4 respondents) feeling that they were prepared at a satisfactory level.

•The feedback loop - average rating was 4.0 out of 5, with 66% of respondents (6) feeling that the training program prepared them well to teach this topic and 33% (1) respondent rating a satisfactory preparation.
•The testing guidelines - average rating was 3.7 out of 5, with 56% of respondents (5) feeling that the training program prepared them well to teach this topic and 44% (4 respondents) feeling that they were prepared at a satisfactory level.

Items where the average rating “to teach as a result of the training” were satisfactory or lower (3 or below) include:

•Tools for managing the ecosystem processes - average rating was 3.2 out of 5, with 33% of respondents (3) feeling that the training program prepared them well to teach this topic, 33% (3 respondents) feeling that they were prepared at a satisfactory level, and 33% (3 respondents) feeling that the training prepared them at less than a satisfactory level.

•Holistic Financial Planning® - average rating was 3.2 out of 5, with 33% of respondents (3) feeling that the training program prepared them well to teach this topic, 22% (2 respondents) feeling that they were prepared at a satisfactory level and 44% (4 respondents) feeling that the training prepared them at less than a satisfactory level.

•The management guidelines - average rating was 2.9 out of 5, with 33% of respondents (3) feeling that the training program prepared them well to teach this component, 33% (3 respondents) feeling that they were prepared at a satisfactory level and 33% (3 respondents) feeling that the training prepared them at less than a satisfactory level.

•Holistic Planned Grazing® - average rating was 2.8 out of 5, with 22% of respondents (2) feeling that the training program prepared them well to teach this topic, 44% (4 respondents) feeling that they were prepared at a satisfactory level, and 33% (3 respondents) feeling that the training prepared them at less than a satisfactory level.

•Holistic Land Planning® - average rating was 2.8 out of 5, with 22% of respondents (2 respondents) feeling that the training program prepared them well to teach this topic, 44% (4 respondents) feeling that they were prepared at a satisfactory level, and 33% (3 respondents) feeling that the training prepared them at less than a satisfactory level.

Pre-Training Self Assessed Expertise Levels Compared with Post-Training Self Assessed Teaching Skills

Participants were asked to rate (high, medium or low) their expertise prior to the training in four topic areas that relate to Holistic Management. Results are summarized below:

Self Assessed Pre-Training Expertise Level

Farm Management Low 44% / Medium 44% / High 11%

Grazing Low 33% / Medium 33% / High 33%

Ag business planning & Management
Low 44% / Medium 44% / High 11%

Ability to Communicate Effectively with Farmers Low 0% / Medium 56% / High 44%

Three particular questions were of primary interest: 1) Did the post-training teaching skill level in Holistic Financial Planning® correlate to a pre-training expertise level in farm management?, 2) Did post-training teaching skill level in Holistic Planned Grazing® correlate with pre-training expertise in grazing?, and 3) did post-training teaching skill level in Holistic Land Planning® correlate with pre-training expertise in grazing?

With respect to the three questions, there were no correlations found between pre-training expertise levels in farm management and grazing and post-training ability to teach Holistic Financial Planning®, Holistic Planned Grazing®, and Holistic Land Planning®.

With respect to holistic financial planning, only one participant rated their pre-training skill level in farm management as high. This participant did rate their post-training teaching skills as high in Holistic Financial Planning®, but since there was only one data point for the pre-training level of high, no meaningful statistics could be run. There was no other pattern between pre-training farm management skills and post-training ability to teach Holistic Financial Planning®. Those participants with pre-training levels of medium or low in farm management had varied post-training assessments of their skills in teaching Holistic Financial Planning® with some rating their skills as high, others medium and others low.

Likewise, there was no correlation found between the pre-training expertise levels in grazing and the post training ability to teach Holistic Planned Grazing® or Holistic Land Planning®. No one rated their post-training ability to teach either Holistic Planned Grazing® or Holistic Land Planning® as extremely well. Additionally, some of the participants who rated their pre-training skills as high in grazing rated their post-training ability to teach both the Holistic Planned Grazing® and Holistic Land Planning® as satisfactory or below.

All of the participants who rated their pre-training expertise in grazing as medium rated their post-training ability to teach Holistic Planned Grazing® as only satisfactory. All the participants who rated their pre-training expertise level in grazing as low rated their post-training ability to teach Holistic Planned Grazing® as less than satisfactory or as unable to teach Holistic Planned Grazing® at all.

All of the participants who rated their pre-training expertise levels in grazing as medium, rated their post-training ability to teach Holistic Land Planning® as satisfactory or below. All the participants who rated their pre-training expertise level in grazing as low rated their post-training ability to teach Holistic Land Planning® as less than satisfactory or as unable to teach Holistic Land Planning® at all.

Seven of the nine participants (78%) who filled out the teaching evaluation survey rated their ability to teach Holistic Planned Grazing® and Holistic Land Planning® as satisfactory or below. Six of the nine participants (67%) who filled out the teaching evaluation survey rated their ability to teach Holistic Financial Planning® as satisfactory or below. In general, this training format did not succeed well at building the capacity of the participants to teach Holistic Financial Planning®, Holistic Planned Grazing® and Holistic Land Planning® at a high level.

Number of days, programs and one-on-one consultations

Respondents were asked to report how many days, programs and one-on-one consultations they did with their farm audiences. Findings indicated a great deal of variation in the amount of time spent teaching the different components of the Holistic Management® framework. Nine participants responded with a range of no days, programs or one-on-one consultations to spending more than 26 days teaching more than 10 programs and completing more than 10 one-on-one consultations covering the various aspects of the Holistic Management® framework

Respondents spent more time teaching the core components of the Holistic Management® framework than other parts of the model. Forty four percent (four) indicated they spent 1-5 days teaching the whole under management, 22% (2) spent 6-10 days and 22% (2) spent 11-20 days teaching this component. Four respondents (44%) indicated they delivered 1-3 programs on the whole under management and three (33%) reported 4-9 programs, while one respondent (11%) said they did 10 or more programs on this topic.

Similar time was reported for teaching the holistic goal component; one respondent (11%) reported more than 26 days teaching, while 22% (2) reported 11-20 days and 33% (3) spent 6-10 days. Five participants (56%) reported doing 4-9 programs on the holistic goal and one (11%) reported 10 or more programs on this topic.

Fewer days were spent teaching Holistic Financial Planning®, Holistic Planned Grazing®, the feedback loop and Holistic Land Planning®. Seventy seven percent (7) indicated they spent no days or only 1-5 days teaching each of these components. The number of programs delivered in these areas was similarly lower with 56% (5) of the respondents indicating that they taught no programs in Holistic Financial Planning® or Holistic Land Planning® and 77% (7) indicating they had taught no or only 1-3 programs on Holistic Planned Grazing® or using the feedback loop.

Holistic Management Retrospective Survey:

Holistic Management Retrospective Survey Results. This tool was targeted only at the participants who work directly with farmers resulting in nine participants filling out the survey tool. Participants were asked to indicate how they worked with farmers prior to and as a result of the training on various aspects of Holistic Management® framework. The data indicated that the respondents did change the way they worked with farmers as a result of the training. Specific results are as follows:

Include all of the people who make daily decisions in developing a farm goal – Before the training nine (100%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this when working with farmers and after the training seven (77%) participants indicated they either usually or always do this now.

Address quality of life factors when considering goals/actions/decisions - Before the training six (67%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this with farmers and after the training eight (89%) participants indicated they always or usually do this now.

Encourage farmers to think of their whole farm when making decisions, not a specific “goal or objective”- Before the training four (44%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this with farmers and after the training eight (89%) participants indicated they usually or always do this now.

Help farmers evaluate the impact of their decisions using a feedback loop - Before the training five (56%) indicated they never did this with the farmers they work with and after the training eight (89%) participants indicated they usually or always do this now.

Work with farmers to monitor impacts of actions over time toward a farm goal - Before the training eight (89%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this and after the training eight (89%) participants indicated they usually or always do this now.

Talk with farmers about how they make decisions on the farm – Before the training eight (89%) indicated they never or sometimes did this, but after the training, eight (89%) participants indicated they always do this with the farmers they work with now.

Encourage farmers to tie financial decisions to their farm goal - Before the training four (44%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this with the farmers they work with and after the training eight (89%) participants indicated they usually or always do this now.

Work with farmers to define the farm’s resource base on paper – Prior to the training eight (89%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this and after the training seven (78%) participants indicated they either usually or always do this now.

Brainstorm new enterprises as part of financial planning - Before the training seven (78%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this with the farmers they work with and after the training eight (89%) participants indicated they always do this now.

Ask farmers to list a farm profit as an expense category – Before the training eight (89%) indicated they never did this with the farmers they work with and after the training six (67%) participants indicated they usually or always do this now.

Help plan grazing – ensuring adequate recovery times - Before the training five (56%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this with the farmers they work with and after the training five (56%) participants indicated they usually or always do this now.

Help farmers incorporate animal impact, grass growth rate and livestock needs into grazing plans - Before the training six (67%) indicated they never or only sometimes do this with the farmers they work with and after the training six (67%) participants indicated they usually or always do this now.

Help farmers to define the way they must behave and be seen by clients to sustain the farm for future generations - Before the training eight (89%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this with the farmers they work with and after the training eight (89%) participants indicated they usually or always do this now.

Help farmers focus on the actual effects of their actions on the ecosystem - Before the training seven (78%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this with the farmers they work with and after the training seven (78%) participants indicated they usually or always do this now.

Help farmers describe the necessary condition the land must be in to sustain the farm for future generations - Before the training eight (89%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this with the farmers they work with and after the training eight (89%) participants indicated they usually or always do this now.

Address environmental factors when considering goals, actions, decisions - Before the training four (44%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this with the farmers they work with three (33%) indicated they usually or always did this) and after the training eight (89%) participants indicated they usually or always do this now.

Address economic factors with farmers when considering farm goals, actions or decisions – Before the training three (33%) indicated they never or only sometimes did this with farmers they worked with and after the training eight (89%) participants indicated they usually or always do this now.

Holistic Management Farm Checklist

The results of the third tool, completed by eight participants, are listed below. The data included both the number of farms that completed each aspect of the Holistic Management® framework, as well as the number of farms that decided not to. Information as to why the farms did not complete the item was included if known.

Whole Farm Plan Action Items

•Defined the “whole” under management – A total of 156 farms completed this component, while 58 did not. Reasons for not completing the whole under management included resistance to new ideas, lack of perceived value, lack of understanding of the concept, lack of instructor’s ability, laziness, and not sure.

•Developed a holistic goal – A total of 156 farms developed a holistic goal while 58 farms did not. Reasons for not developing a holistic goal included lack of time, lack of perceived value, lack of instructor’s ability, lack of motivation, resistance to doing written work, and not sure.

•Utilized their holistic goal when testing decisions – A total of 104 farms did, while 105 farms did not. Reasons for not utilizing the holistic goal included lack of perceived value, lack of understanding of the concept, lack of time, resistance to new ideas, laziness, not sure, and several simply were not to that point of in their work with farmers yet.

•Continued to utilize their holistic goal over the years – A total of 64 farms did, while 107 farms did not. Reasons for not continuing to utilize the holistic goal over the years included lack of perceived value, lack of understanding of the concept, resistance to new ideas, lack of time, laziness, no follow up, requires intentional action by busy people, and not sure.

•Updated their holistic goals – A total of 32 farms did, while 130 farms did not. Reasons for not updating their holistic goal included lack of perceived value, lack of time, lack of understanding of the concept, lack of instructor’s ability, didn’t perceive the holistic goal as a living document, no need, and not sure why.

•Tested actions and decisions using the testing guidelines – A total of 110 farms tested actions and decisions using the testing guidelines, while 56 farms did not. Reasons for not testing actions included lack of perceived value, lack of time, resistance to new ideas, lack of understanding of the concept, lack of instructor’s ability, old decision making habits are easier than testing, utilized the concept with the same effect without utilizing the testing questions, and not sure.

•Developed a Holistic Financial Plan® – A total of 27 farms developed a holistic financial plan, while 134 did not develop a holistic financial plan. Reasons for not doing a holistic financial plan included lack of time, lack of perceived value, resistance to new ideas, lack of understanding of the concept, instructor had another method, was not taught yet, and not sure.

•Farmers updated their financial plan yearly – A total of 5 farms updated their financial plan yearly. There were no responses in terms of farms not updating their financial plans.

•Developed a grazing plan using the Holistic Planned Grazing® process – A total of 38 farms completed a grazing plan while 22 farms did not. Reasons for not completing a plan included resistance to new ideas, lack of time, lack of perceived value, and lack of understanding of the concept.

•Utilized their grazing plan – A total of 27 farms utilized their grazing plan while 8 farms did not. Reasons farms did not utilize a grazing plan included, lack of perceived value, resistance to new ideas, and lack of understanding of the concept,

•Farmers monitored impacts using HM monitoring techniques – A total of 15 farms used the Holistic Management® monitoring techniques while 11 farms did not. Reasons for not using monitoring techniques included lack of time, lack of perceived value, resistance to new ideas, lack of understanding of the concept, lack of instructors ability, didn’t get that far in their teaching yet, and not sure.

•Utilized the feedback loop – A total of 69 farms utilized the feedback loop, while 8 farms did not. Reasons for not utilizing the feedback loop include lack of perceived value, lack of time, lack of understanding of the concept, did not teach this yet, and not sure.

•Developed a Holistic Land Plan® – A total of 6 farms developed a holistic land plan, while 8 did not. Reasons for not developing a land plan included lack of time, lack of perceived value, already had a plan in place, and instructor didn’t teach that yet.

•Utilized their land plan – A total of 3 farms utilized their land plans. There were no responses for farms that did not utilize their land plan.

Several educators indicated that they were not sure or hadn’t had the time to follow up with farms to know why actions were or were not adopted. The numbers above represent only those where the educator had an idea about farms that did and did not complete a component.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

SARE defines sustainable agriculture as agriculture that is environmentally, economically, and socially viable. The SARE Professional Development grant program is aimed at building farmer educators’ capacity in sustainable agriculture along one or more of these areas. SARE PDP Grants aim to accomplish the following specific outcomes:

Short Term (Learning) Outcomes
•Increased knowledge of SARE, sustainable agricultural practices and technologies, and resource materials.
•Increased acceptance of sustainable agricultural practices and principles.
•Increased knowledge and skills in educational methods relevant to sustainable agricultural practices and principles.
•Increased awareness of local farmer knowledge about sustainable agriculture.

Medium Term (Behavioral) Outcomes
•Increased programming in sustainable agriculture.
•Increased use of SAN/SARE results and products (including R&E and producer grants)
•Increased referral of farmers to local and/or SARE resources.
•Develop and participate in on-farm participatory research.
•Greater participation in overall SARE activities.
•Promote SAN/SARE resources.

Holistic Management is a decision making framework aimed at helping farmers make decisions and implement actions that are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. The practice of Holistic Management fits well within SARE’s definition of sustainable agriculture. As such, any measurement of practicing or implementing Holistic Management serves to measure the accomplishment of SARE’s PDP outcomes. The data discussed in the text above demonstrates the accomplishment of several of SARE’s outcomes.

The teaching evaluation survey showed that the participants who filled out the surveys increased their knowledge in sustainable agricultural practices and resource materials, as well as increased their knowledge and skills in educational methods relevant to sustainable agricultural practices and principles.

The learning outcomes were achieved at their highest level in the core aspects of the Holistic Management® framework, particularly in the whole under management, holistic goal, feedback loop, foundation principles, ecosystem processes, and testing guidelines. Participants rated their ability to teach these aspects of the framework as a result of the course at an average level of 3.7 out of 5 or above, expressing they could teach these components well or extremely well on average. This was not universal as at least one respondent in each case ranked their ability as satisfactory, yet by and large, the majority of the participants were well versed in teaching these components.

Most of the participants also increased their knowledge and teaching skills to some extent in the other aspects of the model too, although the average skill level in these areas were rated as satisfactory or below for the following components: tools for managing the ecosystem processes, management guidelines, Holistic Planned Grazing®, Holistic Financial Planning®, and Holistic Land Planning®.

Through the sharing of accomplishments using their list serve, as well as at the training practicums, the participants also accomplished another of SARE’s learning outcomes, increased awareness of local farmer knowledge about sustainable agriculture.

Participants unanimously stated that as a result of this training, they all felt they had better tools for teaching their clients. This further demonstrates both the value of the course in participants’ eyes, as well as the accomplishment of increasing knowledge and skills in educational methods relevant to sustainable agricultural practices and principles, a specific SARE outcome.

In terms of SARE PDP medium term behavioral outcomes, several pieces of data were collected to measure outcomes that were achieved: a retrospective survey examining practices with farmers before and after the training, an accounting of the number of programs taught, consultations performed, and days worked in this area of sustainable agriculture, and an accounting of the number of farms that completed different components of the Holistic Management® framework.

SARE’s outcome of increased programming in sustainable agriculture was demonstrated in several different ways in this training; implementing new sustainable agricultural practices when working with farms, and also in the number of programs and days spent conducting sustainable agriculture programming.

In terms of behavior changes, the majority of participants filling out the survey tools said they only sometimes or never talked with farmers about or worked with farmers on the following items prior to the training: how farmers make decisions, defining the farm’s resource base on paper, including all of the people who make daily decisions when developing farm goals, addressing quality of life factors when forming farm goals, including farm profit as an expense, describing the necessary conditions the land must be in to sustain the farm into the future, describing how the farmers must be seen by clients to be sustainable into the future, working with farmers to monitor progress towards the farm goal, planned recovery times for grazing operations, focused on the impacts of actions on the ecosystem processes, evaluated the impact of decisions using a feedback loop, and brainstormed new enterprises as part of financial planning.

The majority of participants now usually or always do the actions enumerated above as a result of participating in the training. In fact all of the action items listed in Appendix G were found to increase as a result of participating in the training, providing evidence that the training successfully built the capacity of participants to increase their programming in sustainable agriculture practices.

In terms of the number of days, programs, and consultations performed as a result of the training, the data was quite variable amongst the participants, yet results suggest participants offered more training days, programs and consultations on the core components of the Holistic Management® framework than some of the other components (Holistic Financial Planning®, Holistic Planned Grazing®, Holistic Land Planning®, and the feedback loop). One comment from a respondent indicated they felt they would offer more training in other components over time though. Like the educators taking part in this training, the farmers they work with may need to be exposed to the more basic components for a period of time before they develop the awareness and expertise to learn the other components.

Although the number of farms that adopt specific practices is not necessarily a reflection of the instructors ability to teach, it is an interesting piece of information to assess when examining a program. To reiterate, SARE’s PDP grant program focuses on training farmer educators and increasing their skills, knowledge and awareness of sustainable agriculture practices and their programming in this area. Thus increasing programming in the area of Holistic Management would serve as an indicator for a training’s success.
156 farms completed written versions of both the whole under management and the holistic goal. One hundred and ten farms used the testing guidelines, with 104 farms testing decisions towards their holistic goal. Of these farms, 64 continued to utilize their holistic goal over time. Thirty two farms updated their holistic goal and 69 farms utilized the feedback loop. Although these numbers are impressive, one participant accounted for the plurality of these accomplishments. Yet all respondents did work with farms to some extent, thus implementing the knowledge and skills they gained and changing their practices as a result of the training.

The other components of the model were not as widely adopted as those above. Twenty seven farms developed a holistic financial plan, with five farms updating the plan yearly. Thirty eight farms developed a grazing plan, with 27 farms utilizing their plan. Only six farms developed land plans and only 3 farms utilized their plans. Finally, 15 farms monitored decisions using the specific monitoring techniques included in the Holistic Management® framework.

The number of farms that chose not to complete different components of the framework and the reasons for this are listed in Appendix H.

The number of farms implementing the core components of the Holistic Management® framework correlates well with the areas that the participants felt most skilled to teach as a result of the training. The topics of Holistic Financial Planning®, Holistic Planned Grazing®, and Holistic Land Planning® had far lower numbers of participants feeling they could teach at a high level and this correlated well with the fact that the number of farms that completed these aspects of the framework were much lower than those who completed the whole under management, the holistic goal, the testing guidelines, and the feedback loop.

In terms of the programs own stated goals which are listed on page two of this report, the data above demonstrates that the program successfully increased the participants’ basic understanding of the Holistic Management® framework, planning processes, and the underlying concepts and principles that support them. This was the first level of education sought.

Likewise, the fourth goal, which focused on building the capacity of the participants to teach and facilitate the decision making framework with others was also clearly achieved, as based on the number of programs taught and the changes in behavior cited as a result of the course.

No specific data was collected on the second and third goals, (the participant’s understanding of the integration of the different components of the model, and participant’s own personal practice), so no conclusions can be formed regarding these desired goals.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

In terms of the desired outcomes for SARE Professional Development Program funded programs, significant advancements were made on several short and medium terms outcomes. Participants utilized their increased skills and knowledge and translated these into increased programming in sustainable agricultural practices with farms.

All the participants felt the program was worth their effort and time and that it will allow them to have better tools to help their clients.

A similar program was funded by NE-SARE and implemented from 2000 to 2003. The evaluation results were strikingly similar. The majority of participants increased their understanding and ability to teach the core aspects of the Holistic Management® framework including: the whole under management, holistic goal, testing guidelines, feedback loop, ecosystem processes and foundation principles at a high level. Likewise, participants did not achieve a high level of proficiency in Holistic Financial Planning®, Holistic Planned Grazing®, Holistic Land Planning®, and the tools for managing the ecosystem processes. These areas were rated as satisfactory or below by the majority of participants.

The similarity of responses suggests that in terms of building capacity in participants in the core aspects of the Holistic Management® framework, the training format is very sound and applicable for this audience group. Yet in terms of the other components, the majority of this audience group would benefit from another educational approach. One suggestion would be to survey those who built a high level of capacity in these areas and determine what worked for them and also survey those who did not build a high level of capacity and see what would have helped this group.

Future Recommendations

It is important to review the “big picture” of this project and recognize the core driving forces. WHY did NCR-SARE make a very large and significant grant to 12 people who make a very serious commitment in time and money? I would suggest the driving force is the realization that to make agriculture sustainable we need not only to change HOW we do things but also to change the way we decide WHAT to do. People need this balance in their lives. We can teach people to fish (or fish better) but we also need to empower them to decide for their life style goals, for their environment, for their profitability, should they fish or grow rice or maybe run a charter fishing service. This project was an attempt to help educators help producers decide what they should do for a more sustainable agriculture. Thank you SARE for taking this risk. Thank you to the 12 educators for your passion and desire to help people. Hopefully this project was a step in the right direction to making agriculture in the North Central Region more sustainable.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.