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The 2006 APEN Awards for Excellence in Extension

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The APEN Award for Excellence in Extension is open to APEN members, either individuals or groups, who have demonstrated excellence in extension through a work program completed within the last five years. This year both the Open and Young Professional (under 35 years of age) categories are being awarded.

The award includes a plaque, travel to the APEN conference, registration and accommodation at the conference and the opportunity to give a short presentation about the extension work for which the prize has been awarded.

The award will be introduced by Dairy Australia’s Principal Research Fellow (Innovation and Change Management), Dr Mark Paine and presented by the Victorian Minister for Agriculture, Bob Cameron.

Nominations can be received from the nominee(s), or from other persons or organisations on behalf of the nominee(s). A summary of the work addressing the selection criteria, a copy of any written material or reports produced and the names of two independent referees able to comment upon the work make up the nomination.

Selection criteria

1. The use or development of extension principles in the work.

2. Evidence of the effectiveness and efficiency of the work.

3. The applicability of the work in the broader practice of extension

Entries in 2006 were judged by the APEN Management Committee members Drs Jeff Coutts and Neels Botha. The winners will give a short presentation on their work at the dinner, and take part in publicity associated with their success.

2006 Winners

  • Young Professional – Laura Schibrowski
  • Experienced - Neale Price

Past winners

  • 1999- Ian Simpson (Open)
    Extension work- Producer Network of the Sustainable Grazing Systems project
  • 2000- Kathryn Egerton (Young professional - under 35 years of age)
    Extension work- Woolpro and Bestprac, the application of Continuous Improvement and Innovation
  • 2001- Cathy McGowan and Cheryl Phillips (Open)
    Extension work- Women in Dairy project
  • 2003- Fiona Johnson (Open)
    Extension work- Practice Change, Department of Primary Industries Victoria
  • 2003- Jess Jennings (Young professional)
    Extension work- Profitable Pastures Project

The APEN Award for Excellence in the Young Professional Category (2006).

Awarded for work on a project designed to assess whether the approach by the current Land and Water Management Plan (LWMP) implemented by Murrumbidgee Irrigation (MI) is effective in engaging the community of the region and bringing about real and sustained environmental change. The project’s significance lies in both the techniques used and the institutional and social frameworks in which it is being undertaken.

The technique used a mixture of surveys, structured discussion and scenario workshops in a relaxed atmosphere around a “kitchen table”. The context is one of major, rapid and unpredictable change in the water industry with a community looking for contact, reassurance and support. The technique provides an opportunity to voice concerns and know that their opinions may influence MI.

The process of the study has resulted in the MI Board and staff developing a skill set to work more effectively with the community, to actively listen and to use rigorous tools for surveying community perspectives and profiles. The methodology uses a technique called VKAP (an acronym for Values, Knowledge, Aspirations and Perceptions) a technique designed for use in developing countries and the rural sector by Dr D Woodside (2000) and is enhanced by the complementary engagement tools.

The APEN Award for Excellence in the Open Category (2006)

Awarded for contribution to the extension arena and contribution to a project originating in Victoria and which has seen the development of a nation-wide structured learning program comprising more than 50 workshops whose development was based upon some key extension principles including:

  • Applying the various adult learning styles of the end user audience
  • Based on the action learning cycle
  • Including scientists, educationalists, extensionists and farmers/ graziers in workshop development.
  • Providing a suggested delivery structure to all trainers with each workshop accompanied by exercises and other training tools.
  • Piloting workshops with a group of producers and subject to independent evaluations with a greater than 75% success rate required before going to market
  • Selection processes in place for engagement of deliverers (trainers)
  • Development of a network of delivery organisations to capitalise upon local knowledge and contacts, as well as accessing funding support from both FarmBIS and the educational training sector.
  • Aligning the desired outcomes of producers in these workshops with the objectives and outcomes of Vocational Education and Training sector guidelines.
  • Offering a range of workshops from day through to the 3 year (10 times p/annum) option.
  • Using market research in selection of modules/packages to be developed
  • Using Continuous Improvement and Innovation concepts in developing new workshops and revising others. This involves input from the latest R&D outcomes to ensure recency and relevance to the participants.
  • Including field work, role plays, interactive activities, case studies in additional to the “lecture” style of using PowerPoint or other overhead projections to illustrate points
  • Inviting participants to present their own views through responses to questions, from both solicited and spontaneous perspectives.

The project has proven to be very successful with more than 10,000 producers attending at least one workshop. A recent survey indicated that 75% of participants changed management practices as a direct result of attending workshops, 52% claimed increased productivity, 19% better resource management and 14% increased profitability. Early results from the 2005/06 year show attendance is 20% greater than at the same time last year. Other farming industries are applying the principles used in this project.

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