Using farmer-rancher input to develop and implement experiential educational opportunities for beginning farmers and ranchers

Project Overview

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2005: $160,056.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Western
State: Idaho
Principal Investigator:
Cinda Williams
University of Idaho Extension

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: herbs, native plants, ornamentals, trees
  • Animals: bees


  • Education and Training: participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: marketing management, whole farm planning
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management
  • Soil Management: soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, sustainability measures


    This project was undertaken to improve on-farm experiential education offered through the Cultivating Success: Small Farms Education Program and other similar sustainable agriculture education programs. This project reviewed and assessed existing experiential education models and surveyed small farms in Washington and Idaho to evaluate the appropriateness of existing models to their educational needs. Using the feedback from twelve focus groups and the survey results, we identified a variety of content and format alternatives on farm experiential education to conduct, document and evaluate. Eight experiential farmer/rancher educational programs in Idaho and Washington were documented and evaluated through follow-up interviews with farmer instructors and on-line evaluation of workshop participants. Survey results have been presented at three regional workshops and one national conference. The case studies, summary of the project and lessons learned, Enhancing Farmer to Farmer Education in the Inland Northwest: Case Studies of On-Farm Experiential Education, will be available online through project partner websites.

    Project objectives:

    1. Identify and evaluate existing models for delivering experiential learning that have potential for contributing to a whole-farm or ranch systems approach to small acreage farming and ranching.
    2. Assess the relevance of existing experiential learning models to determine how well they will meet the needs of beginning farmers wanting to learn practical, whole system-based sustainable farm and ranch management.
    3. Develop the capacity of experienced sustainable farmers and ranchers, extension educators and researchers to offer effective and meaningful experiential educational opportunities on working farms, university farms and research stations.
    4. Provide experiential education opportunities in small acreage farming and ranching in Washington and Idaho and evaluate their impact on resource management and farm profitability.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.