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ID: PDP23-006
Grant: 2023 Northeast SARE Professional Development Program (full proposal)
Status: Accepted
Amount Requested: $123,249
Project: ENE23-179

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Description for search results if funded: Producers require ongoing training and technical assistance while organizations struggle to hire/retain educators. To reduce the effects of staff shortages/turnover on both organizations and farms, “Tag-Team-Training” will help educators train from within and foster education program sustainability.

General Information

Project Start Date

March 1, 2023

Project End Date

February 28, 2025

Primary State

New York

Optional: Geographic Scope

Primary Commodities

  • None
    • Does not apply to specific commodities

Primary Practices

  • Farm Business Management
    • agricultural finance
    • farm succession
    • financial management
    • marketing management
    • risk management
  • Education and Training
    • extension
    • mentoring
    • networking
    • other
    • technical assistance
    • workshop

Primary Benefits and Impacts

  • Economic Sustainability
    • Improved income or profitability
    • Improved market opportunities

Was a previous version of this work submitted as a full proposal to Northeast SARE?

  • No

Does this project involve research with vertebrate animals?

  • No

Does this project involve human subjects research?

  • No

Plan for IACUC/IRB Determination (no word limit)

Not Applicable

Optional: Additional Context (150-word limit)

Response to Preproposal Comments (250-word limit)

  • Additional Context - Wording changed slightly to clarify in response to reviewer comment.

Project Summary (450-word limit)

Farming has always been one of the most resource-intensive professions known to man.  As a result, farmers are often required to perform as production experts and even laborers first and foremost. Unfortunately, this does not always leave an excess of time to explore and evaluate new practices for business development, management, and marketing. Therefore, farmers benefit from the guidance of trained educators who can customize education/technical assistance that identifies and meets their needs according to their own schedules.

From the service provider’s perspective, however, there are sometimes challenges in delivering services to area farmers consistently:

  • Educators are a primary source of farmer training and education, but their employers struggle to find qualified replacements as they move up or on in careers. When employees leave, organizational knowledge is depleted, and recruitment/re-training is costly. This issue has increased exponentially due to the labor shortages we are seeing after COVID-19;
  • Each farm is a complicated, unique business structure. There are few “one-size-fits-all’ solutions to addressing business needs;
  • While group trainings/peer discussions are helpful, producers also need 1:1 technical assistance that “meets them where they are” geographically as well as in terms of skill, business life cycle, and resources.

Both constituent groups will benefit from this project: Northeaster farmers facing post-COVID sustainability/profitability issues, and Ag educators and service organizations that help farmers meet these business goals but who face staff shortages and turnover, especially post-COVID.  CCEOC believes the most effective solution to addressing these co-dependent issues is to establish a system whereby organizations share resources to 1) minimize program interruptions, and 2) sustain their knowledge base during staffing transition. 

CCEOC is requesting a grant to implement “Tag-Teaming” -- a system of joint Cross-Training and Co-Teaching within a cohort of organizations willing to explore new methods for staff development and program delivery. Cross-training is process of sharing knowledge, skills, and tools among employees or partners, equipping them to perform tasks they may not previously have been qualified for. Co-Teaching is simply a strategy wherein educators work together regularly.  This project will introduce Tag-Teaming to 36 northeastern educators who agree to work together by forming 18 two-person “Tag Teams” that will collaborate in Cross-Training and Co-Teaching not just over the two-year grant period but beyond.

Staff will be cross-trained, and farmers will be team-taught. These techniques are not new, and they are proven.  This project will help organizations and educators prepare to manage the negative effects of staffing transitions by forming "Tag Teams" for Cross-Training/Co-Teaching for the benefit of northeastern farmers.

Performance Target

Performance Target (200-word limit)

PROPOSAL NOTE: An Ag Education “Tag Team” consists of two educators who agree to collaborate for Cross-Training/Co-Teaching (education planning/delivery) to serve area farmers. Ideally, Teams will be from the same organization, however they may be from partnering organizations to assist those that are smaller in size and programming capacity.

• 18 Ag Education Teams (=36 educators) will participate in “Tag-Team Cross-Training” to increase their knowledge in the three specified areas of farm business/risk management, as well as their capacity for Co-Teaching (i.e. sharing the responsibilities of planning, delivering, and mentoring others to provide Ag education services)

• 15 Ag Education Teams (=30 educators) will apply their “Tag-Team Cross-Training” to provide education/technical assistance (group and/or individual) in three high-risk farm management areas -- finance, marketing, succession planning -- to 330 producers

• 30 participating educators will establish a Professional Development Work Group to provide ongoing mentorship and training (Tag-Team and traditional) for the pipeline of Ag Educators who serve northeastern producers

• Optional Farmer Performance Target: As a result of engagement with Tag-Team Educators, 115 producers will have implemented a new process or adopted a new practice in the areas of farm finance, marketing, or succession planning during the program

Statement of Need

Description of Problem or Opportunity (400-word limit)

Historically the US Ag Census reflects declining dairy farm counts since the mid-1900s and increasing small farm startups in produce/proteins. Because of COVID, the evolving production landscape may not yet have culminated as many American farmers again consider industry exit or commodity changes, while niche farmers continue to emerge. Driving factors include:

  • Milk pricing volatility and dairy herd consolidation[i]
  • Farm concerns over pending legislation to increase employee overtime compensation[ii]
  • Emerging entrepreneurs seeking rural lifestyles/secondary incomes after COVID's food system volatility, as well as doubled food/ag tech startups ($22 billion/2020) that reflect changing consumer trends (meal kits, online shopping, food delivery, commercialization of waste reduction, production efficiencies such as vertical growing/freight farms)[iii]
  • Ruminant product shortages where immigrant demand is high (Utica, NY (21.6% foreign born); multi-cultural New York/New Jersey; Pennsylvania (goat importation grew 160% since 2019)[iv]

Agriculture -- a mainstay of northeastern economy -- generates $15 billion annually in sales across the six states being served. To sustain this economic impact, farms need education/support through all phases of their business life cycle. Without it, loss of established farms will debilitate existing economies while the lack of start-ups will curtail future economies/food systems.

CCEOC works with both aspiring and veteran farmers. Beginning farmer intake data (2019-2022) ranked ten areas of educational need (Respondents: 38 Oneida County; 10 other NYS counties; 1 Massachusetts), with the following results:

  • #1 Financial/Business Planning (37=75.5%), #2 Pricing/Marketing (32=65.3%), #3 Bookkeeping (30=61.2%), #4 Loan/grant sources (29=59.2%) (all ranking higher than insurance/liability, land acquisition, regulations, renovations.)

Over 68% of veteran farmers are self-employed, working well over 40 hours/week.[v]  Faced with persistent market/regulatory/environmental challenges, farmers have little time to develop new management skills. To better understand current educational needs prior to proposal, CCEOC queried 22 NYS educators soliciting their on-farm observations/assessments. Responses that ranked #1, #4, and #5 were finance/recordkeeping, marketing, succession planning, -- all areas being proposed herein for “Tag Team” programming. Legal/regulations were #2, and HR/labor #3 which can be addressed by leveraging the specialized skillsets within:

  • Cornell's Ag Workforce Development Program
  • On-site and nearby extension educators with experience training/ facilitating PSA/GAP certification courses.
  • Expert agricultural law businesses in upstate NY- special speakers

As farms regroup post-COVID, educators also reported residual challenges re: staff shortages/knowledge-depleting turnover. In response, CCEOC's “Tag-Team” programming will enable organizations to better assist farmers by: #1.)Developing new educational partnerships, #2.)Expanding/sustaining the organizational knowledge base, #3.) Improving resiliency during staff transitions, #4.) Increasing educational content/consistency/sustainability

Solution and Benefits (400-word limit)

Two constituent groups will benefit from this project:

  • Farmers facing post-COVID sustainability/profitability issues that demand improved business efficiency, market adaptability, and -- as COVID has unfortunately taught us -- consideration for succession or exit strategy planning;
  • Ag service organizations that help farmers meet these business goals through training and 1:1 technical assistance, but who are also currently challenged by program sustainability issues from staff shortages/turnover.


The most effective solution to addressing these co-dependent issues is to establish a system whereby organizations share resources to 1) minimize program interruptions, and 2) sustain their knowledge base during staffing transition. In this case, the primary ‘resource’ is human capital, and the ‘sharing’ may occur externally via new partnerships or internally across staff positions or even departments.


CCEOC will implement “Tag-Teaming” -- a system of joint Cross-Training and Co-Teaching among a cohort of organizations willing to explore new methods for staff development and program delivery. To accomplish this, 36 northeastern educators will commit to forming 18 two-person “Tag Teams” that will collaborate not just over the two-year grant period but beyond via a continued Professional Development Work Team to share knowledge, tools, resources, and teaching responsibilities.


Cross-Training is the process of sharing knowledge, skills, and tools among employees or partners, equipping them to perform tasks they may not previously have been qualified for. Cross-training identifies an organization’s critical knowledge areas, serving proactively to prevent gaps and the undesirable need for ‘crisis training’ instead. This method has multiple benefits:


  • Encouraging employee engagement/collaboration
  • Adding significant return on investment
  • Creating workforce sustainability
  • Improving productivity/efficiency
  • Making organizations agile
  • Increasing scheduling flexibility
  • Facilitating succession planning[vi]


Co-Teaching is simply a strategy wherein educators work together regularly, and it is very flexible.  Co-teaching sessions can be toggled separately or implemented jointly, areas of expertise can be divided, education can be on-line or live, one teacher may lead while another assists, etc. And similarly, there are multiple benefits:


  • Spreading responsibility
  • Fostering creativity
  • Deepening professional relationships
  • Capitalizing on individual strengths
  • Increasing teacher confidence
  • Covering peer absences
  • Providing multiple perspectives to learners [vii]


Staff will be cross-trained, and farmers will be team-taught. These techniques are not new, and they are proven. CCEOC could not, however, find evidence they have been strategically integrated  simultaneously for other professional groups, much less Agricultural service providers. Therefore, CCEOC considers this a pilot project, with potential for continued, post-Grant expansion among other service providers in the northeast.

Service Provider Interest (300-word limit)

The project was developed in response to staff interactions with service providers from Extension and organizations such as Annie’s Project and local/state Farm Bureaus. Service providers often discuss the necessity for farmers to be production experts/laborers first, which sometimes leaves little extra time to explore new practices for business development/management. They also discuss their own challenges in providing consistent programming to help farmers meet their business needs, including:

  • Their employers struggle to find qualified replacements when they depart or move up in careers. When employees leave, organizational knowledge is depleted;
  • Each farm is a complicated, unique business structure. There are few “one-size-fits-all’ solutions to addressing varying business needs;
  • While group/peer events are helpful, producers benefit most from customized technical assistance that “meets them where they are” geographically AND in terms of skill/resources.

CCEOC flash surveyed 22 peer educators from NYS. Key takeaways relevant to this discussion include:

  • 17/21 (81%) said their organizations needed more training in some of the high-risk areas of farm management;
  • 18/20 (90%) said they currently experience challenges hiring/retaining qualified educators/staff.

In terms of potential farmer interest in this project, CCEOC also reviewed intake data from 49 beginning farmer (2019-2022) ranking ten areas of educational need. Responses identified the following areas, all of which will be covered by the program:

  • #1 Financial/Business Planning (37=75.5%)
  • #2 Pricing/Marketing (32=65.3%)
  • #3 Bookkeeping (30=61.2%)
  • #4 Loan/grant sources (29=59.2%)

The service provider and farmer opinions summarized above are common across the industry today -- Farmers require education/technical assistance from trained specialists, while organizations struggle retaining staff to accomplish this consistently. A new approach is needed. There are 119 Ag educators under NYS Extension alone from which CCEOC can draw project candidates. Outreach will be conducted throughout the northeast region, however, via the extensive business networks of NYS' Extension system and Cornell University.

Optional: Historically Underserved Service Providers and Farmers (200-word limit)

Engaging underserved constituents is always a CCEOC priority as the region is home to one of the country’s largest refugee resettlement populations (Utica, NY: 21.6% foreign-born). CCEOC also works with other underserved groups including low-income families, veterans, minorities, women. Recent projects include:

  • Urban Farming Learning Labs (2) – hands-on facility, targeting veterans/aspiring farmers;
  • Somali-Bantu Farming Project -- Refugees established a working farm and food market;
  • Black Women's Blueprint – CCEOC provides technical assistance to this NYC-based entity that is fighting gender violence/racial poverty at an upstate Healing Center that incorporates farming as therapy;
  • National Annie’s Project (farm women) – risk management tools and education for farm women.

CCEOC will plan to integrate curriculum from agencies working to teach educators and community members how to engage with underserved populations with agricultural interests. The curriculum, resources, and presenters available will help start discussions and highlight areas in which our educators can support farmers in making positive impacts on the economical/social, and racial gaps that exist in our food and farming systems. The organizations that will help us in these efforts include:

  • Cornell Small Farms Curriculum- Integrating Food Justice into Rural Farmer Training Programs
  • Groundswell Center- Farming for Justice Educational Series 


Project Team

Key Individuals (400-word limit)

Angela Miazga – CCEOC, Senior Ag Team Department Leader – Ms. Miazga is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (national credential) and a Certified Dietitian/Nutritionist (NYS credential) with over 19 years of experience providing one-on-one, group, and planned special event education. She attained her BS in Nutritional Science from Cornell University and her MS in Agriculture from Colorado State University where she focused on Integrated Resource Management. Her professional areas of expertise include curriculum development, staff and educator training, food systems,
food procurement, data collection/program evaluation.

Sarah Williford – Farmer; Self-Employed Ag Business Consultant – Ms. Williford has 20 years in permaculture farming and has instructed in Holistic Management/Whole Farm Planning in the northeast for ten years, including under two NESARE projects: ‘Whole Farm Planning in the Northeast’ (2017-2020) and 'Building Farm Financial Management Skills through Distance Education' (2020-2023). She was a prior Board Member of Holistic Management International. -- Program responsibilities: Curriculum Coordinator/Lead Educational Delivery (Consultant), serving as liaison to staff/presenters in curriculum matters; will provide instruction/mentoring; assist with outreach to northeastern service providers due to her industry connections.

Stephen E. Hadcock -- Team Leader for Ag Entrepreneurship/Market Development, CCE Capital Area – Mr. Hadcock has 40 years’ experience working with farmers on business management issues. Areas of expertise include succession planning, financial analysis, resource assessment, marketing. -- Program responsibilities: Will develop/deliver curriculum on farm succession planning and marketing, and serve as a resource for participants.

Maryellen Wiley Baldwin – Farm Business Manager, CCEOC –  Ms. Baldwin provides education/1:1 technical assistance to Oneida County farmers. She gained expertise in farm finance/lending as loan analyst for Dairy Farmers of America Financing where she also oversaw marketing/leasing programs. She has a Bachelors in Agricultural Business and is pursuing her MBA in Business Innovation/Entrepreneurship. She is the County representative for Young Farmers & Ranchers of NYS Farm Bureau. Program responsibilities –Will develop/implement curriculum in farm finance/business management; assist with program administration, conferences, mentoring participants.

Samantha Collins – Supply Chain Marketing Specialist, CCEOC – Ms. Collins was prior Director, Nelson Farms (SUNY Morrisville College affiliate) where she assisted startup clients with food processing/packaging/marketing products for retail; She is a dairy farmer who successfully launched a value-added dairy production facility to reduce waste and increase revenue during COVID. -- Lead marketing educator; verification data tracking; mentor to participants.

Project Advisory Committee (350-word limit)

CCEOC Oneida established an Agricultural Advisory Committee in 2018. Members serve to guide the Agency on issues that are timely and important to sustaining the industry in Oneida County. Like other Advisory Committees, the role of this group of stakeholders is not decision-making in nature, but rather to offer expertise, first-hand experiences, and analysis to advise the decision-making of CCEOC’s staff and Board. The Committee is summoned for input individually or as a group as community conditions necessitate.


Advisory members are a primary resource when grant applications are being considered or drafted. For this proposal, the following individuals were apprised of the NESARE application. Additional persons will be invited to engage upon notice of award. They will be called upon to review curriculum before it is presented to ensure content responds to the most current agricultural operating and market conditions:


Howard Regner – Mr. Regner is co-owner of a second-generation family farm. He is familiar with production for corn, soybean, hay, wheat, barley, and strawberries, as well as for raising beef cattle. Mr. Regner has expertise in production planning. Career affiliations include CCEOC’s Board of Directors, Oneida County Farm Bureau, and Oneida County Legislature (elected).


Terri DiNitto – Ms. DiNitto and her husband operate a dairy farm. She is very active in regional Ag initiatives, with past experiences including: Chair of Oneida County Dairy Promotion Committee (10 yrs); Member of Congressman Anthony Brindisi’s Agriculture Committee (4 yrs); NYS Annie’s Project graduate; CCEOC Board of Directors; and Oneida County Farm Fest Coordinator (2 yrs). Current positions/memberships include Oneida County Farm Bureau, NYAAC Birthing Center Advisory Committee, and Upstate-Downstate Food Network Steering Committee.


Donna W Purdy  -- Ms. Purdy has extensive experience working with Farm Services Administration and  is currently Executive Director for Madison County (10 years with Oneida County, 8 years with Madison County, 3 years shared management, and 6 Years as  Program Technician in Chenango County). She has worked in cooperation with Extension offices to educate producers on healthy farm practices as well as informing them of and enrolling them for USDA and other agricultural services.

Achieving the Performance Target

Education Plan (750-word limit)

Participants will learn how cross-training/co-teaching expands teaching capacity, especially when staffing shortages deplete an organization’s knowledge base. Adopting new practices can refresh fatigued attitudes among service providers who may have amassed agricultural subject expertise via their education/careers, but who didn't necessarily choose education as a primary profession. Oftentimes, Ag specialists become Ag educators in round-about ways! To offset this, cross-training/co-teaching will capitalize on the unique skills/perspectives of multiple individuals to ensure adult learners – in this case, farmers – experience various opportunities/perspectives to capture new information effectively.


A program brochure will contain program details/terms of commitment. As an affiliate of NYS' Cooperative Extension Association and Cornell University, CCEOC has capacity to reach Extension offices/staff across 62 counties/boroughs. Other states have similar Extension systems/university affiliations. Sarah Williford, Curriculum Coordinator/Lead Education Consultant will assist with outreach due to her prior experience implementing NESARE grants serving professionals.

Applicants will apply online. To secure their two-year commitment, CCEOC will require sign-off from their executives. Applicants will indicate pre-qualifications, why/how this opportunity will benefit them, and whether they have a “Tag-Team” partner (internal/external) applying. The latter will be strongly encouraged but applicants will not be denied based on lack of partner. CCEOC will rank applications 1-3 according to pre-set criteria. Those ranked #1 will be accepted first-come, first-served; #2s and #3s will be wait-listed/alternates.

The proposal calls for 36 individuals to form 18 two-person Tag-Teams. A primary incentive is that all costs are covered. Teams will meet for opening/closing conferences, and virtually each month. Key individuals will mentor participants (email/Zoom/Teams) as they apply their skills/knowledge in working with farmers (to commence in Q1).  CCEOC will form an Extension “Program Work Team” – groups that bring faculty/staff/educators together for collaboration. Annual funding ($2,000) is available for PWT sustainability.


“Tag-Teaming” is a pilot system of joint Cross-Training/Co-Teaching among organizations willing to explore new methods for staff development and program delivery. It was conceived and will be piloted by CCEOC and Sarah Williford (Key Individuals). Newly-formed partnerships will collaborate to share knowledge, tools, resources, teaching responsibilities.

Content will focus on building educator knowledge/skills/confidence, amassingexternal resources, increasing capacity to work collaboratively in three PRIMARY TOPIC AREAS:

  • Finance/Recordkeeping: software, cost of production, income statement, cash flow, Enterprise Analysis, best practices
  • Marketing: 4Ps = Price, Product, Place, Promotion; comparison of direct/wholesale/cooperative
  • Succession Planning: (NOTE:Topic selected due to its importance post-COVID with farmers considering commodity changes/farm transitions. In CCEOC’s pre-proposal surveys, Succession Planning was identified as the topic educators felt least confident teaching.): transitioning leadership, decision making; working w/ experts

Learning methods will include workshops, webinars, expert panels/presentations, mentoring, resource-sharing.  Participants will convene annually for two-days, monthly (virtual) and variably with staff for mentoring. Tag-Teams will verify activities in co-training and applying skills directly with farmers via sample verification tools, uploaded.

(Note: Activities will run concurrently:)

Activity 1: Annual Workshops (Closing/Opening Sessions); Project intro, process, timeline/requirements; Introductory sessions for each Primary Topic Area; Tag-Team self-assessments; Drafting of individualized plans for Tag-Team training/teaching ‘next steps, including work with farmers; suggestions for Tool-Kit development; wrap-up/evaluations 

Activity 2:  Monthly Virtual Sessions in Primary Topic Areas; Best practices/lessons learned in the field

Activity 3:  Mentoring, at two levels: 1) Among Tag-Team partners for co-training, and 2) with staff/consultants in Primary Topic Areas to facilitate working with producers

Activity 4: Working with Farmers -- Tag Teams identify 3-5  farmers for 1:1 consulting, and develop schedules to practice/implement group trainings for their constituents

Activity 5:  Presentations/Panel Discussions with field experts (attorney, accountant, lender, insurance specialist, Ag Service Organizations, etc).

 Activity 6: Professional Work Team Development to be coordinated by CCEOC for program sustainability/expansion



CCEOC will utilize the principles of the Kirkpatrick Model of Evaluation.[viii]

Level 1: Reaction

The degree to which participants find the training favorable, engaging, and relevant to their jobs – assessed through individual confidential evaluations of training components.

Level 2: Learning

The degree to which participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence, and commitment based on their participation in the training – assessed through pre-post testing on training components and Tag-Team Co-Training Logs (uploaded)

Level 3: Behavior

The degree to which participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job – assessed through Tag-Team Farm Education Logs (uploaded) and qualitative discussions during group meetings

Level 4: Results

The degree to which targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training and the support and accountability package – assessed through Tag-Team Farmer Education Logs (uploaded); and Mid-Program/Final Participant Evaluations; Confidential Farmer Evaluations (mailed by/returned directly to CCEOC)

Milestones (900-word limit; suggested limit of 12 milestones of 75-word limit each)

Engagement Milestones:

  • March 1, 2023; notified of award
  • April 1, 2023; promotion of project across northeast and Extension offices, through May 1, 2023
  • May 15, 2023; participant applications due at CCEOC office; review and selection through May 25, 2023
  • May 31, 2023; 36 service providers notified to participate in “Tag-Team Training”
  • June 10, 2023; Participant agency-approved confirmation back to CCEOC is due

Learning Milestones:

  • July 1, 2023: opening conference (2-day), White Eagle Conference Center, Hamilton NY -- Project intro to discuss process, timeline, and individual/Tag-Team requirements; Introductory education sessions for each Primary Topic Area (Finance, Marketing, Succession Planning); Tag-Team knowledge/skills self-assessments by Primary Topic Area are completed; Drafting of individualized plans for Tag-Team Cross-Training and Co-Teaching; Agreement on 'next steps,' including work with farmers.
  • July 15, 2023: Tag-Teams begin Cross-Training collaboration activities to include shadowing, demonstration, resource sharing, live meetings/training sessions (if feasible,) on-farm visits. Activities to continue for duration of program. Use of verification tools begins.
  • August 1, 2023: and monthly thereafter through grant period, virtual training sessions facilitated by CCEOC, Sarah Williford, Stephen Hadcock, and CCEOC team members, focusing on Primary Topic Areas; guest presenters/panelists to be included.
  • December 1, 2023: Tag-Teams complete first progress/process reports to CCEOC for assessment and sharing with other Tag-Teams, and to help formulate best practices
  • June 1, 2024: Tag-Teams complete 6-month progress/process reports to CCEOC for assessment and sharing with other Tag-Teams, and to help formulate best practices
  • December 1, 2024: Tag-Teams complete 6-month progress/process reports to CCEOC for assessment and sharing with other Tag-Teams, and to help formulate best practices

Evaluation Milestones:

  • July 1, 2023: Level I Reaction and Level II Learning -- Beginning with opening conference and for all meetings/events thereafter, participants will complete pre-post tests to gage knowledge/skills before and after training sessions. Participants will also complete individual event evaluations to provide qualitative feedback on instructional content and methods
  • August 1, 2023: Level III Behavior and Level IV Results – Beginning immediately after opening conference and for duration of grant period, participants will keep Cross-Training and Co-Teaching Logs to document application of knowledge/skills gained in working directly with farmers. Closing conference activities will focus heavily on behaviors and results, and how to document on-farm changes as well as educator training process/practice changes.
  • January 1, 2025: Assessment of optional farmer performance target -- As a result of engagement with Tag-Team Educators, it is targeted that 115 producers will have implemented a new process or practice in operations. This will be tracked via use of goal-setting with farmers and documentation by Tag-Teams for 1:1 consulting and group programs.

Previous Work

Previous Work (750-word limit)

In pre-application planning for this project, CCEOC deemed it would first be prudent to research NESARE agriculture projects funded in the past. We learned that limited resources had addressed educator and service provided training, according to information posted for public viewing. There was one project, however, that caught our attention:

Northeast Organic and Sustainable  Farmers Network: Manual of Current Practices, Extension Training and Field Days. In the document section “In-Service Training – “Farming for the Future” ” (pg 4), Extension agents shared they were hungry for resources such as fact sheets and information on specific practices that could be recommended with confidence in dealing with farmers during varying situations. The author reported they had received “Insights as to the challenges involved in ‘training’ for sustainable agriculture.” He concluded that Extension agents were “most comfortable” in roles wherein they technical information backed up by research afforded through  “institutional legitimacy of the Land Grant system.”  Further, he concurred there were no “one size fits all” in terms of solutions to progress from researcher to Extension to farmer.  Instead, he advised  farmers must be their own advocates, facilitators, agents in exploring/adapting to resolve issues, whereas “the Extension professional must function as a facilitator of this learning process, not just as a conduit for technical information.” [viii]

As a second resource in literature review, CCEOC sought context to support its premise that “Employee Loss = Knowledge Loss,” the effects of which are noticed more and more as being costly and detrimental to programming continuity in agriculture. Staff located human resources guidance on this issue in “Knowledge Loss: Turnover Means Losing More Than Employees.”

This trade article contends that because today’s employers seek to have a cohort of employees who perform as “a subject matter expert in something,” many of them end up in precarious positions when the expertise goes out the door with the individual. The author makes a compelling point in support of CCEOC’s proposal to engage Extension offices in cross-training not only for the sustainability of independent organizations… but for the Extension system as a whole. And, it appears, the organizational costs may be even higher than we had perceived:

“Whether a company’s employee turnover is above or below average, your workforce becomes at least temporarily less efficient every time someone leaves. In our research, we found that on average, 42% of the skills and expertise required to capably perform in a given position will be known only by the person currently in that position. In other words, should that person leave, their remaining colleagues won’t be able to do 42% of their work, and someone hired into that role will need to learn 42% of it from scratch.” [ix]

Authors of this article estimate new hires spend 200 hours working inefficiently, i.e. asking, waiting, sometimes not asking, or just winging it by trying to create something that already exists and may be highly valued.

CCEOC is one agency that has recognized the hard costs of training, recruitment, and retraining. But, we also perceive other soft-but-serious detriments that have potential to hurt us in other ways. One of the most concerning is community image.  Our reputation is strong, largely because our workers offer community-based services. Of late, however, we have grown conscious of how employee changes could potentially be perceived as organizational instability.  To date, we have no evidence of that, but we choose to stay ahead of that curve by strengthening our human resources so programming caliber /reputation remain high, thereby avoiding what we now refer to as “the 42% effect” wherein we might also have to regain some footing regarding community perceptions.

We present Cross-Training as one solution to this. According to “The Benefits of Cooperative Learning” by Melissa Kelly, this method “gives students opportunity to learn from each other. Studies show peer learning in which students explain concepts/ideas to each other has potential to improve comprehension considerably…. and produces experiences that other learning structures cannot.”[x]  Among them are qualities we choose to enhance in staff , including teamwork, conflict resolution, decision-making, leadership development. Further, we feel employees with these skills will have higher job satisfaction and may be less likely to depart.  We hope we gain multiple benefits from piloting this method of preparing our staff to go out into the field after cross-training:

  • higher job satisfaction that retains employees
  • outward demonstration of a culture of teamwork by sending Tag-Teams into the field
  • lower turnover
  • increased knowledge retention
  • prevention of potential for negative community perceptions resulting from staff changes

Citation List (no word limit)

i. James M. MacDonald, Jonathan Law, and Roberto Mosheim. Consolidation in U.S. Dairy Farming, ERR-274, July 2020. Retrieved October 16, 2022 from,

ii. Text- H.R.3194 - 117th Congress (2021-2022): Fairness for Farm Workers Act. Retrieved October 16, 2022 from,

iii. Kolodny, L. (2021, April 30). Covid and “peak cow” created a boom for food and agriculture tech in 2020. CNBC. Retrieved October 16, 2022, from

iv. Retrieved October 16, 2022

v.  Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Farmers, Ranchers, and Other Agricultural Managers. Retrieved October 16, 2022 from,

vi.  8 Benefits To Cross-Training Employees. (n.d.). 360Learning. Retrieved October 17, 2022, from

vii.  Team teaching. (n.d.). AITSL. Retrieved October 17, 2022, from


ix.  Knowledge Loss: Turnover Means Losing More Than Employees. HR Daily Advisor; July 17, 2018. Retrieved October 24, 2022.

x.  Benefits of Cooperative Learning. ThoughtCo.; November 20, 2019; Retrieved October 23, 2022.



Organizational Affiliation of Subawardees

Budget Justification and Narrative Spreadsheet (upload)

Total Direct Costs


Total Indirect Costs


Total SARE Request


Host Organization Approval

Authorized Official Contact Information

FDP Clearinghouse Information

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