Growing Agricultural Service Providers’ Program Outcomes with Producer Co-Educators

Progress report for WPDP22-001

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $84,995.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Host Institution Award ID: G369-22-W9214
Grant Recipient: Oregon State University
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Mary Halbleib
Oregon State University
Colette DePhelps
University of Idaho Extension
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Project Information


This project will provide agricultural educators with the experiences and support necessary to develop successful learner-centered educational programs through utilizing an outcome-based design approach with producers as co-educators. Outcome-based education is an instructional design framework that begins with asking what skills or knowledge learners must have to address an expressed need or opportunity in their lives or work. The project will support 10 educators across Oregon to engage with producers throughout the educational planning and design process to ensure the resulting programs will meet the needs of the participating farmers and ranchers. Educators accepted into this project will begin the learner-centered design process by identifying a sustainable agriculture issue or topic around which to design an outcome-based educational program. To explore their existing teaching philosophy, the educators will participate in a Real Colors® temperament workshop and complete a personal learning styles assessment. Educators will also investigate the core principles of adult education and how to implement effective teaching and learning strategies. To create content, participants will be provided with an educational design and planning workbook that includes guidance and templates for instructional design, engaging with farmers as co-educators, teaching and learning plans, and program evaluation. Throughout the project, educators will receive mentoring from the farmer-educators and have extensive opportunities to engage directly with one another to share information, practice new skills, and provide feedback to increase the opportunity for learning. Each educator will design and implement at least two outcome-based sustainable agriculture educational programs with producers as co-educators. At the conclusion, participants will share insights from their evaluation data and self-reflections on their learning experiences. This project will result in a professional development process with transferable resources that can be used by others working with educators to further promote the implementation of effective sustainable farming and ranching practices.

Project Objectives:
  1. To increase agricultural educators' knowledge and skills to create instructional designs that will enable producers to achieve relevant, authentic learning outcomes and therefore be able to make the desired changes in their lives and work increasing the sustainability of their farm and ranch operations.
  2. To expand agricultural educators' skills to more effectively facilitate adult learning experiences through having ASPs teach in project meetings using the practices outlined in Sustainable Agriculture Through Sustainable Learning (Bell and McAllister, 2021)
  3. To enhance agricultural educators' ability to engage with producers throughout the educational planning and design process to ensure the resulting programs will meet the needs of the participating farmers and ranchers.
  4. To support agricultural educators in exploring how personality tendencies and perspectives on learning influence their approaches to program design and teaching with producers.
  5. To expand agricultural educators' program evaluation skills to create instruments to gather valuable feedback from producers to improve future programs and document behavior change.
  6. To enable agricultural educators to gain the skills to conduct cost recovery that includes funds to compensate producers as experts and educators.
  7. To empower farmers and ranchers in seeing themselves as co-educators and value their time through being paid as consultants.
  8. To engage agricultural educators in understanding the larger effects of doing outcome-based, co-taught programming with producers to capture community-level impacts. Agricultural educators will also experience the power of Ripple Effect Mapping and be able to employ this approach in their programs.
  9. To articulate a professional development process and create transferable resources that can be used by others working with agricultural educators to further promote the implementation of effective sustainable farming and ranching practices.

Gantt Chart_Halbleib_WSARE PDP_2yr

Assumptions and resources

The approach reflects the beliefs and experiences of the project team, that providing the essential knowledge coupled with authentic learning experiences will translate into changes in how the participants engage with producers. The project funds will support the farmer-educators and principal investigator, producer workshop mini-grants, workbook graphic design, and workshop travel.


The two farmer-educators currently committed to working with this cohort will serve as mentors to the participants and share their hands-on experience and knowledge on how to increase progress towards sustainability when working in collaboration with producers. Colette DePhelps will contribute to team meetings, facilitation of in-person meetings, develop successful examples for the workbook, and facilitate evaluation and assessments. Mary Halbleib will coordinate the project, co-design project processes, co-instruct, develop the workbook, and manage program evaluation.


Recruitment plan

A single cohort of ASPs will be recruited at the beginning of the first year. To be accepted participants will have an expressed interest in improving their knowledge and skills in learner-centered approaches to adult education and developing an outreach program with producers that focuses on one or more aspects of enhancing agricultural sustainability.


Online meetings

During regularly scheduled online meetings, the cohort will work in pairs or small groups to discuss new ideas, share their experiences, and get feedback on their workshop plans. In these meetings, the ASPs will have opportunities to teach using the principles of adult education to get practice and gain confidence in their abilities. Each person will do self-study on the area of sustainability their educational programming addresses, this learning will be shared with the other cohort members and project team.


In-person workshops

There will be two in-person workshops to go deeper into the work and enable further co-learning. The first workshop will be designed to explore personal learning styles, teaching approaches, and draft outcome-based education designs. Participants will gain insights into their existing teaching frameworks using the Real Colors® assessment tool, complete their initial teaching plans with feedback from peers and farmers-educators, and share learnings from self-study on agricultural sustainability. The second workshop will include sharing lessons learned, evaluation data, Ripple Effect Mapping, and a final reflection to unpack this professional development experience.


Producer workshops

In collaborations with experienced sustainable ag producers, each cohort member will design and implement at least two producer workshops that employ active learning approaches and are co-taught by experienced producers.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Diane Green - Technical Advisor - Producer (Educator)
  • Lora Lea Misterly - Technical Advisor - Producer (Educator)
  • Teagan Moran - Technical Advisor


Educational approach:

This project uses both an outcome-based and learner-centered approach to co-learning with a diverse cohort of agricultural educators. Cohort members represent Extension, a state agency, and three not-for-profit organizations. The five-member leadership team includes both academics and farmer-educators and meets monthly with the cohort members for two hours to share experiences and support idea exchange on how to create and implement producer-centered approaches and engage with a producer from the start. Each meeting employs active learning approaches, peer teaching, and open conversation to create a supportive space that allows for the exploration of potentially challenging topics and makes it safe to not know. The project also uses an Extension Foundation Campus site for sharing resources, posting project files for feedback, and hosting online discussions.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Producer-Centered Adult Education

Enable cohort members to find a producer-educator to work with, co-create an educational program plan, and co-teach the educational program with a producer


Each month for two hours the leadership team and the cohort of 10 agricultural educators meet to 1) explore new ways of working with a producer as a co-educator, 2) discuss options for using a producer-centered educational planning framework, and 3) gain skills for implementing effective education with adult audiences.

Outcomes and impacts:

In 2022 the leadership team recruited cohort members and the cohort began meeting as a group in October. 

The cohort and leadership team created a Community Agreement to outline our expectations of how we will work together as a group and how we will treat each other.

We are exploring the adaptation of educational planning tools for use with producers as co-educators.

Each month for 5 months a pair of cohort members is teaching the group using one of the five practices in the SARE Sustainable Agriculture Through Sustainable Learning publication.

We are using discussion boards on the Extension Foundation Campus project site to get updates from cohort members on their projects and answer questions between meetings.

Educational & Outreach Activities

3 Other educational activities: Monthly cohort meetings

Participation Summary:

6 Extension
3 Nonprofit
1 Agency
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.