I am coming to an end to six months of working remotely! This has been quite an experience and only made possible by the internet, skype, zoom and e-mail – and having excellent and accommodating clients. Having had all our immediate family living away and wanting to travel and explore, we decided to go and spend some time with them and get out and about. This meant England and Canada primarily – with some side trips to Ireland, Norway and Iceland. We were able to welcome a new granddaughter (Myla – Amy’s second daughter) into the family in London, explore Dorchester-on-Thames with Ben and Evie and go searching for moose and bears with grandsons Beni and Alex in New Brunswick!
While in Ireland, I was invited to give a seminar on evaluation at Teagasc – the extension delivery organisation in the Republic of Ireland – at their head office in Carlow. This was a great opportunity to share ideas and approaches on this topic. It emphasised the need to be prepared to demonstrate value for money in investing in extension services. Then, Ben and I attended the 12th European IFSA (farming Systems) conference at Harper Adams University in England. Robyn and I had attended the last one in Berlin in 2014 and it was great to catch up with colleagues and friends and see what was happening in the ‘systems’ world. The Primary Innovation Program – in which I am involved in the evaluation area – ran a successful workshop on “Using a co-innovation approach to improve innovation and learning”. I presented a paper on behalf of the other authors on the lessons learned about the “nine principles of co-innovation” in the program. There was a good range of papers well worth having a read.
Meanwhile, back in Australia two of the Research & Development for Profit Projects in which we are providing evaluation support are gaining momentum – as is the ‘Weaving the Korawai’ project in New Zealand which is addressing the roll out of a 100 year MOU to restore and develop a catchment in collaboration with the Maori Community. On the other end, the Primary Innovation Project and the NCCARF project are on the homeward run. At both ends, monitoring and evaluation planning and implementation are paramount. By thinking through what is needed through the life of a project at the beginning, then life is much easier at its end to demonstrate its effectiveness and measure its impact!
I don’t get to relax for too long in one place when I get back to Australia – a week in New Zealand in October for work with the ‘Weaving’ project in New Zealand and then back to Chile in November for the second series of workshops directed at developing capacity in consultants working with smallholders – a great experience. One upside will be having Ben and also Amy back in the same time zone –they are moving to Brisbane – at least for a while.