- Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, study circle, technical assistance, workshop
Problem and Justification: Farmers in Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland need regular assistance and education from well-trained Agriculture Service Providers (ASPs) in order to maintain sustainable farms. This outreach often comes from knowledgable, well-meaning professionals in ways that do not fully help the farmers understand and process new information into successful decision making on their farms. Many of these ASPs in the region have not received professional development trainings about adult education principles and methods to improve farmer outreach, which could lead to better farmer adoption and improved farm management
Solution and Approach: A series of trainings will teach ASPs about a variety of adult education principles and methods to improve farmer outreach. Some examples of the topics are curriculum development, messaging strategies, event planning, storytelling, mitigating bias, improving research design and demonstration plots etc. Topics will be delineated more in the milestones.
A core group of participants has already been recruited and has agreed to participate. This group consists of the 12 Delaware State University Small Farms ASP’s as well as program leaders from Delaware Conservation District, and Future Harvest. Individuals from this core group will attend at least 12 of 16 trainings over the two-year grant period.
Many of the topics of the trainings are not relevant to other service providers in the region. For example, curriculum development and event planing would not be helpful for Conservation District staff who do not plan events. However, these ASPs could benefit from trainings such as improving communication and messaging with farmers. Therefore, a separate group of ASPs’ from CD, NRCS, UMES, and Future Harvest, who are not part of the core group will attend at least two of four additional trainings. Each training will be replicated in Dover, DE, Georgetown, DE, Princess Anne, MD , and Wye Mills, MD, totaling 16.
Trainings will include discussion among participants about how to implement learned techniques as well as challenges and successes relating to the topic and previous training. At the beginning of the project, participants will agree to record what they have incorporated into their farmer outreach and how many farmers they reached and approximately the scale of those farms.
Stipends will be awarded to participants who have been most active, demonstrate a need to travel to adult education professional development conferences, and agree to present learned information at future trainings.
At the completion of the final training, binders with learning resources from each workshop will be distributed to participants and to other ASPs in Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland.
An additional annual farm tour will be jointly coordinated with the UD’s state PDP program to provide presentations and discussions about adult education principles learned at previous trainings.
Performance targets from proposal:
30 Agriculture Service Providers will incorporate at least two learned techniques into their farmer outreach, of which eight service providers will incorporate at least five techniques, together improving outreach to 400 farmers, managing 20,000 acres.