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Winter 2015

The conference in Wageningen, The Netherlands, was great! It combined two extension streams – the Association of International Agricultural and Extension Education (US dominated) and the European Symposium on Extension and Education (European dominated) and brought about 380 delegates to the combined event. The theme was ‘Competence and Excellence in Extension and Education’ – and there was certainly a smorgasbord to choose from! I gave a paper on Changing Evaluation Approaches in Australia (see the papers section) and chaired a session on evaluation. It was fitting that the event was held in Wageningen – it has a long history of taking the lead in extension thinking and practice over the last decades. For me, it was where my family lived while I completed my Masters and then completed my PhD.

Wageningen is also involved in the NZ Co-innovation project that is raising much World-wide interest in how to be innovative within an RD&E Stream.Of course, while over in Europe, I had chance to visit Amy and her husband Chris in London – and catch up with our grand-daughter Evie! [My wife, Robyn, was not able to travel with me on this occasion – so was very envious!]. It is great to have Amy being able to take a more active role in the company. Her leadership in the use and evaluation of social media is a timely addition to our team.

Given that it is winter, Robyn and I did get a break up in North Queensland in the middle of the year. This combined work with family visits – as well as a trip up to the Daintree. This really is the best time to visit the North! A very interesting stop was Paronella Park – the picturesque ruins of a Spanish ‘Castle’ built in the rain forest in the early 1900s. Quite an unexpected addition to the incredible rainforests and natural beauty in North Queensland!

With all the focus on agriculture with the White Paper and the R&D for Profit Program, I am expecting life to get even busier on the extension and evaluation front! I will keep you posted.