Helping Farmers Grow their Operations by Improving Coaching and Adult Education Skills of West Virginia Agriculture Service Providers

Agricultural service providers are not traditionally trained in adult learning or coaching/facilitation skills which they could use to help the farmers they support. In West Virginia, there is also currently a rise of new community-based organizations with limited agricultural experience working with producers. All these service providers work with producers yet have limited experience in the "soft skills" necessary for effective support for farm businesses.

The team at West Virginia State University has provided introductory education for farmers to develop their business operations and now, these farmers need specific one-on-one coaching for their operation-specific goals.

Therefore, eight agricultural service providers will be recruited to join this three-year project on adult learning and coaching/facilitating to support the farmers with whom they work. The project will draw on materials and toolkits developed by SARE including:

The programming will include introduction to the topic(s), followed by modeling the learning with a client and then practice in small groups to develop and improve participants' own skills. Finally, the trained service providers will be expected to coach/facilitate issues identified by farmers with support, if needed, by the project team. Sessions will be evaluated by farmers as well as self-reflections by the service providers and feedback from the project team.

Performance Target: Eight agricultural service providers will gain practical knowledge and experience in adult learning and coaching farmers to identify, create and deliver presentations, publications, social media campaigns, farm tours, and grant proposals/reports which will facilitate 64 farmers to confidently grow their business/operation in a sustainable manner that meets their own goals.

Want more information? See the related SARE grant: