Professional Development - Holistic Management Training

2003 Annual 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: Michigan
Project Coordinator:
Benjamin Bartlett
Michigan State University

Professional Development - Holistic Management Training


Project Summary: Professional Development – Holistic Management Training

Twelve people will become Certified Holistic Management (HM) educators. These people will learn holistic decision making skills, how to monitor those decisions, and how to teach others these skills. Articles, presentations, and case studies will create awareness of HM. Outcomes in the short-term will be educators trained in HM; in the intermediate-term, learning groups lead by a trained educator who is successfully using HM decision making and planning tools; and long-term, a NCR network of learning groups, a professional staff of HM educators who are actively teaching HM, and a growing sustainable agriculture community in the NCR.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Short-term outcomes
Educator Awareness: Candidates understand the importance and usefulness of individual farmers and community members considering the “whole” when making decisions and developing plans that move their community and farming practices towards greater vitality and sustainability.
Educator Knowledge: Candidates learn how to use 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.
Educator Attitudes: Candidates begin to experience a paradigm shift after learning how to define the whole under management: (a) by 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 best decisions and the need to monitor and re-plan.
Educator Skills: Candidates learn how to: incorporate a variety of learning styles into their facilitations 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
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.
Candidates make presentations with members of their learning groups during conferences and during other relevant events during the second year of the project.
Candidates monitor implementation of the plans of the learning groups, help re-plan when indicated.
Candidates consult with each other, their learning groups, and the greater community network to insure and sustain the ongoing 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.
Candidates work with their learning groups to produce documentation of the plans they have designed and implemented.

Long-term outcomes
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.
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 formation.
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.
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.



Short-term: The primary short-term outcome is to have the 12 participants learn the Holistic Management TM Framework. A self assessment survey was done before the first intensive and near the end of the third intensive. Results of the four main questions are as follows:

1. How would you rate your current level of knowledge of the Holistic Management?
Scores increased 62%
(It is important to note that a number of people expressed to me that they felt they “over-rated” themselves on the first survey. They found out after the first week’s session they didn’t know as much about Holistic Management as they thought they did at the beginning of the week.)

2. How would you rate your ability to explain Holistic Management to someone who is unfamiliar with the concept?
These scores increased by 120%

3. How much do you use HM to make decisions to your current personal life?
Scores increased 161%

4. How much do you use HM to make decisions in your work/business?
An increase of 119%

Comments from the Savory Staff concerning the North Central educators include:

– “All NCETP trainees are beginning to develop an awareness of what it means to manage whole situations — farms, families, organizations, etc.”
– “All NCETP trainees are beginning to explore tools that will help them to implement and teach the practice of holistic management.”
– “All have made progress in learning how to utilize the Holistic Management TM model and practice holistic decision making in their personal lives and work.”

Intermediate Outcomes: Here are some examples of what individual educators-in-training have accomplished. It is not a summary of all activities.

A. One person writes a monthly guest column for an agricultural newspaper with a circulation of about 45,000. Three of those columns have focused on Holistic Management.

B. Two classmates from the same state put together a Holistic Management training session for 11 staff members from their university. The ‘University learning group’ wrote a Holistic Goal, objectives were approved and educational events were planned. A survey showed that 78% felt the training was valuable, 100% felt the Holistic Goal was good, and 67% felt that Holistic Management should be used by the university. They have received a grant of $1500 to extend this Holistic Management training to more university staff.

C. One individual explained that after nearly 40 years of making car payments, using the family Holistic Goal and with the help of Holistic Financial Planning, the new car purchased this summer was done with cash, no monthly payments.

D. One educator in training is working with an RC&D coordinator for a 12 county area. The RC&D coordinator has read the Savory book and calls regularly to discuss how things could be done more holistically. The coordinator has developed a set of questions in her work, i.e. “could you help me understand your purpose here” (goal setting) or “how could we determine if doing this will really take us where we want to be” (monitoring). The coordinator is also taking her increased Holistic Management skills home to her and her husband’s greenhouse business. This educator in training also has a grazing discussion group, about 15 members who meet twice a month in the winter season. About one half of the three-hour session is devoted to Holistic Management training with at least two farmers having a ‘working version’ of a Holistic Goal.

E. A university staff person who has a part-time extension appointment has programmed into this winter a five day Holistic Management course for 16 people and budgeted $800 for these sessions.

F. An educator in training, while experiencing family stress and using Holistic Management decision making/thinking, realized that an old car needed to be gotten rid of. Focusing on their Holistic Goal, they decided to forgo the hassle of trying to sell it and just donated it to charity. They dropped the insurance, the car was gone, and the few dollars they gave up were not as valuable as the time to focus on more important family issues. This same family also used decision testing to evaluate significant job related decisions. There was potential for significant family stress but by having a family Holistic Goal and then a way to test decisions toward that goal, they made a decision and “felt confident” in their decision.

G. One educator has a USDA grant in working with communities and one of those communities will be trained in Holistic Management decision making. About $2000 of that USDA grant will be directed to the Holistic Management training activities.

H. An educator is working with a state wide NGO that was facing a considerable financial challenge. The executive director credits Holistic Management information that he received from one of our Holistic Management Certified Educator in training with helping the board to see the whole picture of the organization, identifying costs, and a procedure for using the savings to improve programming. The organization has a temporary Holistic Goal and the budget decisions pass testing toward their goal.

I. One educator reviewed about 10 wealth-generating enterprises in a family financial plan. She picked the one with the greatest marginal reaction and gross profit analysis — a cabin that, once build, could generate income and be a draw for family to come visit. They financed the new enterprise with such novel things as selling their football tickets and unused equipment. The have had some paying guests in the cabin and also have a daughter and new grandchild coming to visit this holiday season.

These are some examples of changes in behavior, practices, and policies that the 12 HM-CE in-training have experienced or caused to happen. There is great diversity in our group and this is reflected in this first year’s activities. While some individuals ‘hit the ground running’ with multiple learning groups, some people have not had very active learning groups in this first year. This diversity of backgrounds and out-reaching efforts will be an excellent window into the efforts of Holistic Management TM and sustaining agriculture in the North Central SARE region.

A sample of the Holistic Management Plans for the next six months:
One trainee will incorporate Holistic Management training into a multiple session Crop Ecology course he has planned for this winter and spring. He will also be taking his Holistic Management skills to the statewide organic farming advisory council.

A workshop on Holistic Management will be offered as part of a statewide Food Security Summit session.

His organization has suffered severe staff reduction with resulting low morale and reduced effectiveness. The SARE-supported trainee will bring his Holistic Management training to empower the staff to focus on what they can accomplish and can control.

Another person will bring the Biological Planning training we received to his NGO. This is the group that used Holistic Management TM Financial training to make significant headway with severe budget problems.

One trainee is doing a Holistic Management session at the Midwest Added Value Conference this winter.

A final example of future Holistic Management activities is a trainee who is doing one of the keynote sessions on Holistic Management at a statewide grazing and organic farming conference, and also doing a Holistic Management decision making session at a very popular statewide sheep producers meeting.

The NCR-SARE Holistic Management trainees are also planning to gather at a summer meeting. The purpose of the session will be to review the lessons learned at the four intensives, share teaching successes and challenges, and to increase the strength of Holistic Management Certified Educators network in the North Central region. It will be critical to pull the group together to maintain enthusiasm and leaning, to strengthen the network/personal relationships between both the current trainees and other Holistic Management TM Certified Educators, and to foster future educational efforts.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The first year of this three-year program has been focused on educator training.

Activities of the Group: All 12 of our trainees have attended every session, with the exception of one candidate, who had a new baby. Four one-week long intensives have been completed; the Introduction to Holistic Management TM Model, the Holistic Management TM Financial Planning and Wealth Generating Process, the Biological Planning including Holistic Management TM Land Monitoring, Grazing Planning, and Biological Monitoring of Rangelands, Grasslands, and Croplands, and the Holistic Policy Analysis and Design TM and program review. All the trainees have participated in at least one of the conference calls or list-serve discussions. A Program Mentor has hosted approximately two mentoring conference calls per month, 11 for the biological intensive, and three for the policy intensive session. Participants’ program evaluations and personal assessment sheets, including feedback from the Program Director and Program Mentor, have been completed for each participant at each intensive.

Impacts on students or educators in training will be evaluated in the second year.


Laura Paine

PO Box 567
Portage, Wi 53901
Andy Hager

W. 3597 Pine Ave
Stetsonville, Wi 54480
Steve Dahlberg

386 8th Ave South
Fargo, Nd 58103
Paul Swanson

5155 West 12th St.
Hastings , Ne 68901
Juli Brusell

572 County Rd 2100E
Casey, Il 62420
Office Phone: 2179235190
Heather Amundson

1304 N. Hillcresast Pkway Ste B
Altoona, Wi 54720
Larry Dyer

13434 Baseline Rd
Hickory Corners, Mi 49060
Marquita Chamblee

132 N. Dibble Ave
Lansing, Mi 48917
Chris Norman

1000 Aullwood Rd
Dayton, Oh 45414
Terry Gompert

Box 45
Center, Ne 68724
Tobey Williamson

1200 18th St. NW Ste. 800
Washington, DC 20036