- Education and Training: evaluation
The goal of this plan is increase the ability of agricultural service providers in Vermont to apply evaluation concepts and techniques to improve their sustainable agriculture programs in ways that increase impact at the farm level.
The project will focus on evaluation in the context of two transdisciplinary areas of high relevance to NESARE’s outcome statement: programs that a) help new farmers establish and grow sustainable farm businesses and b) those that help farmers implement practices that reduce agricultural nonpoint water pollution. As such, it will engage a diverse group of agricultural service providers from Extension, nonprofit and government agencies who work across a variety of crop and livestock production, marketing and business development content areas. Participants will gain both a conceptual foundation and practical skills that they will use to strengthen their nutrient management, cover cropping, grazing management, enterprise planning, business planning, marketing, financial management, apprenticeship, and farmer mentoring programs.
Through the application of what they learn, participants will: gather more meaningful needs assessment data; develop more powerful learning objectives for their programs; keep better track of participant learning and behavior change; increase their understanding of factors that support or inhibit farm level adoption; use data generated through internal reviews and client feedback to improve service planning and delivery; and more effectively communicate the value of their sustainable agriculture programs to agricultural audiences, funders, and the general public.
The new Vermont State Project Director will facilitate educational programming that addresses monitoring and evaluation knowledge and skills identified through a preliminary needs assessment conducted in early 2017. The topical emphasis may be refined and additional topic areas included based on a detailed needs assessments that the new project director will conduct in December 2017 and January 2018. The following table outlines links between the project’s educational content and their application to sustainable agricultural program related to: nutrient management, cover cropping, grazing management, enterprise planning, business planning, marketing, financial management, apprenticeship, and farmer mentoring programs.
Performance targets from proposal:
20 Extension educators and non-profit personnel will use increased outcome evaluation knowledge and skills to improve programs designed to help 150 beginning farmers launch and grow farm enterprises that meet their business, stewardship and lifestyle goals, and help 150 established producers adopt nutrient management, cover crop, and other production practices that support Vermont’s new water quality goals.