Rural Extension: Enabling Change in Rural Communities

6 Day Course

Deepen your understanding of how to support change in rural communities and with farmers! Explore modern approaches to capacity building and behavioural change that work. Share your experiences with other extensionists to learn from their successes and failures! Learn how to develop an effective extension strategy for your organisation or role.

“As to methods, there may be a million and then some, but principles are few. The person who grasps principles successfully selects their own method.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This course will help you build a strong understanding and effective skills in doing extension with farmers and rural communities in the 21st century. Using practical examples and covering core concepts we look at the key extension roles of managing change, capacity building, influencing behaviour, leadership and facilitation. We explore a wide range of extension strategies and tactics to enable change in farming communities including peer to peer learning, digital and social media, behavioural tactics, field days and workshops. You will also get a chance to share experiences with other extension practitioners.The course covers:

  • What is extension
  • Change: what it is and how to facilitate it positively
  • Working with people: communities, leadership and facilitation
  • Behavioural, Learning and Systemic Approaches
  • The Process Knowledge Spectrum
  • Adult Learning: optimising the process
  • The 4 stages of Capacity Building
  • Creating positive learning environments
  • Modern Extension: strategies and tactics
  • Monitoring and Evaluation: are you reaching your extension goals?
  • What makes a great extension activity
  • Developing an extension strategy for your organisation/community
2 men writing on paperLooking at soils

The Rural Extension: enabling change in rural communities Course can be tailored to your organisation. The course is led by agroecologist David Hardwick. David completed a degree in Ecological Agriculture at the University of Sydney with focus on agroecology and rural change. He has worked in rural extension roles for over 15 years and has been involved in a number of highly successful extension projects including the Digging Deeper Soils Program and the Regen Cane Network. Guest co-presenters are included where possible. If you are just starting off in extension or if you are already experienced but want to update your skills and share extension experiences with your peers then this course is for you!

I started working with David in 2018, when he visited the Burdekin Region to deliver a training day for NQ Dry tropics field staff. Since then I have engaged him to deliver several workshops for farmers and land managers. Participants come away with skills to undertake soil assessments, a solid understanding of soil health principles, and the confidence to implement management changes, monitor the health of the soil, and knowledge of how to interpret soil analysis. The combination of these skills gives participants the capacity to implement sustainable management practices, and get the best out of their soil.

David has thorough knowledge of the key disciplines needed to understand the underlying ecological processes that support soil health, and also the agronomy behind key primary industries. This gives him a solid base to pass on knowledge to a broad range of industries, however I believe his strongest professional attribute is his affinity for communicating complex concepts in a way that is easy to understand. David is an advocate for effective extension skills, and in addition to the technical knowledge that informs production, he mentors a number of staff in NRM as well as farmers to build skills in the field of agronomic extension.

David runs a “Life in the soil” role play exercise. The role play is a very effective ice breaker because David introduces his characteristic understated humor, and soon has the group fully engaged, and learning about life in the soil while having fun at the same time.

Peter Arthofer - Regional Agriculture Landscare Facilitator - Burdekin Dry Tropics

Looking at different soils

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