Iowa Learning Farms has released its updated Field Day Toolkit on how to hold an effective field day from planning to evaluation.
“We released the first toolkit a few years ago. Meanwhile, we continued to improve our approach to field days,” says Jacqueline Comito, Iowa Learning Farms program director. “This revised toolkit reflects additional best practices that have emerged through new evaluation methods. We hope others will benefit from the information in the updated toolkit.”
Field days continue to be at the heart of Iowa Learning Farms. Since 2004, ILF has coordinated over 250 field days and workshops across the state. This updated Field Day Toolkit is an easy-to-use planning template that shares what has worked best to host an effective field day from start to finish, she says.
Designed to break field day planning into smaller steps to make the process less stressful, the toolkit includes sample checklists, promotional materials, press releases and evaluation surveys. New to the toolkit are best practices for determining when to host a field day for the audience you want to reach, based on input from field day attendees.
Tips to keep field day on track
“This past year we asked attendees to indicate when they preferred to attend field days. Different age groups and genders show preferences for different days and times. This has helped take the guesswork out of selecting the ‘when’ the event is held and allows me to focus on the other planning details,” says Liz Juchems, ILF conservation outreach specialist, who coordinates about 30 farmer and landowner events each year.
Also, new to the toolkit are presenter tips to help keep the agenda on track and maintain attendee engagement. For example, using humor and posing questions are great ways to keep the attendees attention and encourage discussion of topics and ideas.
“It seems everyone is busier than ever, so sticking to the agenda and ending on time is a key component to effective field days,” Juchems says.
While ILF uses many different outreach approaches, the importance of farmer-to-farmer, person-to-person outreach cannot be overstated. ILF has found there is a relationship between farmers attending field days, adopting conservation practices and influencing other farmers to use conservation. This relationship is known as the Field Day Success Loop.
The toolkit is available on the ILF website (in PDF format) for download.
Established in 2004, Iowa Learning Farms is building a Culture of Conservation by encouraging adoption of conservation practices. Farmers, researchers and ILF team members are working together to identify and implement the best management practices that improve water quality and soil health while remaining profitable. Partners of ILF include the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Iowa Department of Natural Resources.
Source: Iowa Learning Farms