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Autumn/Winter 2018

I went to my website recently and was astounded that my last blog was from Spring 2017! And now it is Autumn 2018. I found this incredible – had so much time really passed by? I observed to someone that I felt like I was in a ‘very-fast-train’ with the scenery rushing past me in a blur! And I know life is more about living in the moment and smelling the roses…. So time to slow down a little – but still keeping up with the blog! What makes this possible is having Ben and Amy as key partners in the business. Ben’s YourData platforms for managing and reporting M&E are much in demand and Amy continues to be an effective project manager for many of our projects.

In Australia, the end of the financial year is always a busy time for projects funded by government or industry – it’s a time of reporting or winding up and a time for evaluation reports. It is so much better to be part of an evaluation that has been built into a project or program from the start – you understand the project so much more, have had the opportunity to influence and undertake M&E data collection along the way – and you have literally years of data on which to provide a robust evaluation report which is useful.

We were fortunate to play an evaluation role in two of the initial Rural Research and Development for Profit projects – one directed at improving the effectiveness of RD&E by better engaging with the private advisory sector and the other directed at the dairy industry through increased traits to test for through milk testing. Both involved strong collaboration – as is the intention of these projects – and both brought forward benefits for the farming system.

Improved coordination and collaboration across extension programs is increasingly emerging as a goal across government and industry as they seek to gain greater efficiencies and effectiveness – making a difference in the ground. This is evident in the Cooperative Research Centres and is a major element of a two-yearly benchmark across CRCs in which I am involved. It is also a major factor in improving water quality in the reef regions of Queensland. It has been very encouraging to see the efforts going in to these areas and I am very optimistic about the gains that are being made.

Since the last blog I have been back to Chile – running the last of workshops for consultants who work with small holders (a real privilege) – as well as spot of fly fishing with colleague Octavio! And continued to cross the Tasman for the Weaving the Korowai project (improving a run down catchment). It all makes for interesting experiences and learning and chance to meet and work with fascinating people!

Meanwhile, I had an opportunity to spend a couple of days at my Cousin’s farm in Collector NSW – certainly was nice to be on the back of horse rather than in front of a computer for a short time.

Coming up is a visit back to South America and then on to Canada to visit family – with a short trip to share my insights into evaluation in Sweden. Hopefully there are many roses to smell along the way!