; Developing a Farm Communication Coaching Program | Conferences | AgRisk Library


Conference Name Developing a Farm Communication Coaching Program

Leslie Forstadt and Karen Groat


This concurrent session provides an overview of a Farm Communication Coaching program for agricultural service providers interested in offering similar programming. In 2020, a coaching program offered through the University of Maine Cooperative Extension expanded on a 2018 pilot project focused on addressing human risk with farmers planning to retire, those who are just beginning, farmers in transition, and small farms.

Human risk management is in the forefront as farmers are increasingly interested in opportunities to develop skills in constructive conversations involving conflict, succession planning, decision making, and stress.

How does the Farm Communication Coaching program work? Farms that participate in farm coaching work with two coaches to address an issue of their choosing. Four 2-hour sessions are held at a time-frame that works for the farm and farm season. Each session is facilitated conversation and completion of specific activities from a tool kit that are transferable and tailored to fit the farm's needs and goals.

Past participants requested coaching for support in managing teams, working with partners for task delegation, communicating across generations regarding the future of the farm, and more.

Activities in farm coaching include:
-completing personalized needs assessments,
-developing farm communication plans to address individualized goals,
-implementing strategies over 1-2 growing seasons,
-meeting with coaches to refine the plans for the next season.

In this concurrent session, participants will be presented with an overview of evaluation data from farms that have participated in farm coaching, and will receive training in and a copy of the communication coaching guide and toolkit to support the development of future coaching programs.