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.
Review of evaluation of Leading Sheep program
One of the interesting areas of work is that of evaluation mentoring. In the case of Leading Sheep – a Queensland based project looking to provide stronger support to the wool industry – I had the opportunity to review their evaluation plan with the key players and make suggestions how to strengthen and streamline the evaluation. This is interesting and a growing area of work.
Evaluation of Stronger Learning Pathways project in Cradle Coast Region Tasmania
Jeff Coutts worked with Gordon Stone (Toowoomba) to develop and coordinate the on-going evaluation of a number of related projects in North West Tasmania. The projects are aimed at increasing the participation in post-compulsory education in the general community and work across schools, the University of Tasmania, TAFE Tasmania industry and other parties to encourage participation.
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.
South East Queensland Irrigation Futures
Jeff Coutts was involved in facilitating the management and funding framework for the South East Queensland Irrigation Futures program – a State Government funded program to improve rural water use efficiency in the South East Queensland Region, Australia. The program aims to employ a number of Industry Development Officers to work with the dairy, fodder, cut flower, turf, nursery and horticultural industries to improve the way water is used in growing and post-havest.
Evaluation of BestWool 2010 (update)
Coutts J&R revisited the evaluation of BESTWOOL 2010 – a project which provided facilitation to groups to seek their own training needs. This project was reviewed in 2002 at the end of the first phase, and this second evaluation was undertaken in 2005 to see how much progress has been made in the second phase.
BestWool 2010 is a project aimed at improving the capacity of managers within the wool industry in Victoria. The project provides funds to groups of growers to employ a facilitator to assist them to determine and access training and information needs they require to better manage their businesses – profitability and sustainability focused. Both evaluations used a modified Bennett’s Hierarchy as a framework to look at changes since the project started and the impact that it had made.
The evaluations show a strongly dynamic project bringing significant benefits to the participants and the broader industry.
CPI/PROSPER – Sugar Industry
The purpose of this project was to monitor and evaluate the adoption component of the Cane Productivity Initiative (CPI)/PROSPER in terms of whether it is on track to achieve the productivity targets of the initiative. It also highlighted issues and opportunities to further improve the program.
This project began May 2003 and was run for one year.
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.
Evaluation of Accelerating the impacts of participatory research and extension on shifting cultivation farming systems in Laos
Jeff Coutts undertook a review of the project entitled: “Accelerating the impacts of participatory research and extension on shifting cultivation farming systems in Laos” (AIRP) for the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR).
The project supported the FLSP- Forages and Livestock Systems Project (funded by AusAid, managed by CIAT from Laos – selected forages introduced to villages in Laos (2 provinces) using participatory research and extension methods). The combined projects demonstrated the value of participatory approaches and the “scaling out” extension processes used. It also showed the high degree of farmer innovation in using and adapting technologies and commercial opportunities.
Review of Vegetable Industry Development Officers
Looking at how to improve the effectiveness and support for these positions across Australia – funded by Horticulture Australia Ltd. (HAL)
This review looked at the 6 Industry Development Officers (IDOs) funded by HAL in terms of their effectiveness and support structures. It involved groups interviews via phone and face to face of the state Management Committees, a workshop with the IDOs, a web based survey, and phone interviews with informed persons.
The review was completed in January 2003.