Professional Development - Holistic Management Training

Project Overview

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: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Benjamin Bartlett
Michigan State University

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, focus group, networking, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, marketing management, agricultural finance
  • Production Systems: holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, community services

    Proposal abstract:

    Summary: Fifteen people will become Certified holistic Management Educators over a 2 ½ year period by: (a) attending five (5) six day residential training sessions; (b) teaching (between each session) what they have learned to a learning/working group of farmers, colleagues, and community members; (c) writing articles and making presentations at conferences and workshops relevant to sustainable agriculture and communities; and (d) preparing and disseminating case studies in hard copy and on-line format documenting the plans developed and implemented by the learning/working groups. During the residential training sessions, 15 people from CES, NRCS, and NGO’s (10 people sponsored by NCR SARE) will learn how to form holistic goals, make and monitor decisions that consider profitability, the environment and quality of life, and also learn how to teach others these skills. Their learning will extend to: 90 people in the learning groups; 300 people through articles and workshop presentations and an additional 500 people through conferences and hard copy disseminations and HM trained educators and a core of people who have learned and are using Holistic Management processes. This network becomes established and is available to work with educators, farmers, ranchers and communities to help make plans and decisions that foster a more sustainable agriculture. Outcomes in the short and intermediate term include educators trained in HM; and, establishing and facilitating learning groups who are using HM decision making and planning tools. Outcomes in the long term include a NCR network of learning/working groups, a professional staff of HM educators who are actively teaching HM, and a growing sustainable agriculture community in the NCR.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    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.

    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.