Improving Sustainable Agriculture Programs in Vermont through Enhanced Evaluation Capacity and Needs Assessment

While the majority of Vermont’s sustainable agriculture programming is well-received and well-attended by the farming community, agricultural service providers (ASPs) have identified evaluation as a priority professional development topic. Many indicated that they struggle to develop effective and efficient evaluation processes and tools that both meet funders’ reporting requirements and that can help identify approaches and components of programs that are most effective at supporting on-farm changes.

This project, conducted by the Vermont SARE Coordinator at the University of Vermont Extension, will build upon previous work to enhance evaluation capacity among a cadre of Extension educators and non-profit organization and public agency staff. Participants will receive resources, tools and individual support to help them integrate evaluation processes into their work, document changes in their program and share lessons learned with a broader ASP community.

The project will also conduct a needs assessment to identify topics where development of knowledge and skills among Vermont ASP is needed to address sustainable agriculture issues. The assessment will collect farmer perspectives on priority areas of need for education and technical assistance and will document service provider educational interests and perceptions about professional development. Results from the needs assessment will inform future professional development programming in Vermont.

Want more information? See the related SARE grant: