Farmer-to-Farmer Learning Groups-Curriculum for Establishment and Facilitation
This project involved the development of an educational guidebook for establishing and facilitating farmer-to-farmer learning groups. The guide draws on the practical experience of farmers, Cooperative Extension agents, and agriservice people.
1) Encourage the establishment of farmer-to-farmer learning groups that enhance sustainable agriculture.
2) Survey existing farmer-to-farmer learning group participants and facilitators to determine effective methods for developing and facilitating these groups.
3) Develop and adapt educational material in the form of a guidebook for the implementation of farmer-to-farmer learning groups. These materials would emphasize practical examples and case studies that illustrate three components — recommendations for establishing groups; educational methods for facilitating them; and educational tools for achieving group learning goals.
4) Publish, market, and distribute the developed guidebook to extension educators, farmers, and agriservice organizations in the Northeast.
Farmers cite other farmers as a major source of information when making decisions about their farm businesses. Facilitating such farmer-to-farmer learning and transfer of information can be accomplished through developing learning groups.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Cayuga County has successfully implemented learning groups over the last six years. These groups have focused on bringing farmers together to share experiences, exchange information, and seek out ideas. The concept has generated interest among other extension educators, farmers, and agriservice businesses and organizations.
This project involved the development of an educational guidebook for establishing and facilitating learning groups. Farmers and agriservice people who are involved in learning groups were identified and a survey was developed to obtain pertinent information on how effective learning groups are established and facilitated. In addition, individual interviews were done to gather more in-depth information.
The guidebook draws on the practical experience of farmers, extension agents, and agriservice people. Group dynamics, adult learning, facilitation skills, and educational activities are provided.
A guidebook has been developed which provides recommendations and methods for establishing farmer-to-farmer learning groups. The guidebook is being marketed through extension, agriservice, agricultural publications, and electronic lists and bulletin boards.
Methods and Findings
Existing farmer-to-farmer learning group participants and facilitators were identified through a review of literature, electronic bulletin boards and lists, agricultural publications, and word of mouth. A survey was developed to determine how groups were established, what the benefits and effectiveness of the groups were, how the groups were facilitated, and what activities had been useful. Positive and negative experiences were solicited.
A guidebook has been developed drawing on the survey and interview results. Up until now, information on how to establish and facilitate groups has been by word of mouth or has been extrapolated from the general study of group work and group dynamics. The guidebook provides recommendations and methods for establishing groups, educational methods for facilitating them, and education tools for achieving group learning goals.
The guidebook is being marketed through extension, agriservices, agricultural publications, and electronic lists and bulletin boards. Over 200 guidebooks have been distributed in this way.
Reported December 1998. 1999 Northeast Region SARE/ACE Report.