Communication and Outreach for Sustainable Agriculture: A Video Training Program for Extension

1996 Annual Report for ENE96-023

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1996: $49,998.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/1998
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $12,090.00
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Billie Jo Hance
Center for Env. Comm., Cook College, Rutgers Univ.

Communication and Outreach for Sustainable Agriculture: A Video Training Program for Extension


The goal of this project was to create a training program for Cooperative Extension personnel that would focus on the human dimension of sustainable agriculture by highlighting on videotape the successful communication and collaboration efforts that led to the success of the Musconetcong Watershed Implementation Project. The video was released in 1999. Team members feel the project reached its stated goal and objectives, as evidenced by comments given in evaluations during the pilot workshops, and in the interest in the videotape by various groups for a range of purposes broader than we had at first envisioned.

1. Increase Extension personnel’s overall knowledge and understanding of the importance of communication.
2. Improve and refine communication and consensus-building skills.
3. Increase awareness of the value of communication in encouraging farmers to adopt sustainable practices.
4. Motivate Extension personnel, through a positive example, to embark on collaborative projects.

This project produced an 18-minute video documenting collaboration between agencies, farmers and businesses to protect the Musconetcong Watershed in northwestern New Jersey from non-point source pollution. The video comes with a discussion guide to help incorporate similar communication and collaboration strategies into other projects. The video and training packet were developed through a collaborative process involving a broad range of agricultural professionals, including farmers, Extension personal, NRCS staff, agribusiness representatives, educators, citizen advocates, environmental regulators, and representatives of other government agencies. Farmers and agency partners in the project tell the story. Some sustainable agriculture practices are shown, with the emphasis of the tape on the impact of communication and collaboration. The team held five pilot training sessions using the video and packet, receiving generally positive feedback from each of the groups.
The training packet includes the following materials: quotes of support from environmental groups and farm leaders who have viewed the video, overall background summary of Musconetcong project, lessons learned from the Musconetcong Project, five pitfalls to avoid, discussion questions to promote group discussion, a glossary of terms used in video, and definitions of sustainable agriculture.
The team developed a detailed dissemination strategy, which includes using the video and training materials with a wide variety of agricultural, environmental and community groups. At the time of this report, we are in the process of disseminating the video to our target audiences through networking, attendance at meetings, and through distribution by word of mouth.
The project’s final report contains a detailed description of the steps to producing such a video, including lessons learned and pitfalls to avoid. The report can be obtained by contacting Northeast SARE.
The video and materials can be purchased for $25 from the Center for Environmental Communication, Cook College, 31 Pine Street, New Brunswick, NJ 098801-0231. Phone 732-932-8795 or e-mail [email protected]

Reported March 1999.