Designing Extension, Education and Communication Processes (8 projects)

Trabajando con Productores de la Agricultura Familiar Campesina (Working with Smallholder farmers) in Chile

This a three year Project with the Consorico Lechero designed to strengthen extension and advisory skills in consultants contracted by Government to work with smallholders in Chile. The project includes an annual workshop with follow up support via an on-line site and webinars.

Avocado Industry Stakeholder Engagement Plan

This project looked at the current stakeholder engagement activities within the Avocado Industry and proposed an aspirational industry stakeholder engagement planning framework based on feedback from different target groups. The framework was developed around the five extension models and outlined methods of engagement for different target groups and proposed details as to how they could work at an industry level. It also provided an indication of topics and themes stakeholder are interested in

Reef Extension and Education Review

The main purpose of this review was to guide future investment in education and extension for practice change in reef catchments. While reviewing existing education and extension systems this project will develop recommendations on how best to provide access to services for farmers to enable accelerated practice change and strengthen long-term capacity. This may result in a change in the way that information is provided to farmers, or it may strengthen current approaches that are working well. Furthermore, the project will respond to the diverse agricultural industries, local communities and geography present within the Great Barrier Reef catchments. The industries considered will include cattle grazing (including beef and dairy production), cropping (including cane and grain farming), and horticulture (including banana growing).

Literature Review: Informing AgResearch’s Adoption and Practice Change Roadmap: Adoption Review – Evaluation Component

This project brought together the key principles and processes of evaluation to inform AgResearch’s approach to strengthen and make explicit its role in the whole Research, Development and Adoption process.  This includes how it works with other organisations to bring about the desired industry and national impacts.

Northern Territory Extension Mentoring

This project involved providing training and mentoring with the Pastoral Production extension team of the Department of Regional Development, Primary Industry, Fisheries and Resources in the Northern Territory.  A workshop was run in August 2009 to provide an update on extension approaches nationally and explore the training and support needs of extension staff.  Further actions were negotiated after this workshop.

Papua New Guinea Scientific Communication Project

Participatively developing a Graduate Certificate in Scientific Communication for use by the 6 PNG Universities – funded by ACIAR, subcontracted by UQ.

Dr Jeff Coutts was the Project Manager for this three year project (2002-2005) and Robyn Coutts was the project’s Gender Advisor. The first year comprised of developing the course materials and training the first cohort of university lecturers from across PNG’s 6 universities in their delivery. The second consisted of running courses across PNG to provide accredited training in scientific communication across the university, government, NGO and private sectors.

The project was reviewed at the end of 2004 with a very positive endorsement. It received an extension to end 2006 to assist in integration into the universities.

MLA Extension Strategy

Coutts J&R together with Dr Neels Botha from AgResearch New Zealand were contracted to look at the current extension (funding) strategy of Meat & Livestock Australia and look at future scenarios to inform planning. As part of the review, the funding and extension strategies of other Rural Development Corporations and Companies in Australia and New Zealand were also explored for benchmarking and comparison purposes.

The exercise demonstrated that there was strong funding support for extension and education from the RDCs – and that extension is seen as a critical function to bring about change on the ground.

National Extension/Education Review

A two year review of “what works and why” in rural education and extension projects – funded by the Joint Venture in Human Capacity Building in Rural Industries – and partnering Roberts Evaluation.

This project looked at a range of extension and education projects across the rural and regional sectors – across rural industries and states. It used a common evaluation framework to be able to compare and contrast projects and to draw conclusions about what elements and processes work best in different situations for different outcomes.

Each project was allocated to a “model” which described its mode of operation and type of outcome it is after. The models were:

1. The group facilitation/empowerment model: This model focuses on increasing the capacity of participants in planning and decision-making and in seeking their own education/training needs based on their situation.

2. The programmed learning model: This model delivers specified training (in terms of content) based in an industry needs analysis or demand. It can be delivered in an adult learning approach.

3. The technological development model: This model is about working with individuals and groups to develop specific technologies, management practices or decision support systems which will then be available to the rest of the industry.

4. The personalised consultant model: This model is based on extension people working one-on-one on farm. It covers both general and specialists consultants and advisors as well as extension programs where individual farm visits are central components.

5. The information access model: This model focuses on the growing role of the internet, information CDs and distance learning. It covers approaches to establish data bases, web sites and call centres to deal with individual information seeking needs from a distance.

A database was constructed to allow interested persons to explore the different projects and models and learn from the collective experience.

The project ended in January 2004.