- Education and Training: demonstration, display, focus group, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, technical assistance, workshop
- Sustainable Communities: partnerships
Problem and Justification:
Agricultural service providers (ASPs) trained to provide information to their farmers or direct them on where to find the information they need. They are historically not trained in adult learning or coaching/facilitation which is what they could use to help farmers learn to help themselves and grow in their own skills. Add to this the rise of new non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community based organizations (CBOs) working with producers who often have limited agriculture experience as well. However, all are hired to work with producers with limited experience in developing the "soft skills" necessary for a business even though this is part of what assistance their clients need. We have provided the introductory education for farmers to developing their business operation, but to make it to the next level farmers need specific one-on-one coaching for their operation specific goals.
Solution and Approach:
Eight ASPs will be recruited to join the 3-year project on adult learning and coaching/facilitating to support their farmers. We will draw on materials and toolkits developed by SARE including: 1) Sustainable Agriculture through Sustainable Learning by Sandy Bell and Janet McCallister; 2) Social Media Toolkit for Farmers and Agricultural Producers and 3) Farmer Field Day Toolkit along with personnel with expertise in these areas. The programming will include introduction to the topic(s), followed by modeling of this with a client and then practice in small groups to develop and improve their own skills through trial and error. Finally the ASPs will be expected to coach/facilitate issues identified by farmers with support if needed by the project team. Sessions will be evaluated by the farmer as well as self-reflection by the ASP and feedback from the project team.
Performance targets from proposal:
Eight agricultural service providers will gain practical knowledge and experience in adult learning and coaching farmers to identify, create and deliver presentations, publications, social media campaigns, farm tours and grant proposals/reports will facilitate 64 farmers to confidently grow their business/operation in a sustainable manner that meets their goals.