Extension Best Practice Guidelines - Designing an extension programme | Beef + Lamb New Zealand
Learning module

Extension Best Practice Guidelines - Designing an extension programme

An extension programme needs to be more than just a series of individual events involving the same group of farmers. To be effective in terms of achieving change in farming practice, it must be carefully planned with explicit goals to meet the needs of the target group, as well as matching the model that we’ve already outlined, which is shown again below.


In this section, we’ll take you through the steps to designing an effective extension programme. While you’re working through these steps, keep in mind you will need to:

  • understand the attitudes and values of your farmer group – these shape what the group is currently doing, and will give you clues as to what might be barriers to change or uptake of new practices
  • identify the readiness of the group for new information
  • provide new information in a way (or ways) that makes it easy for the group to access and use that information when it is needed
  • think about the support and follow-up needed.


Want more detail?

You might like to read Over the Fence: Designing extension programmes to bring about practice change, in particular Section 2: pages 16-20 and 24-32.


Identifying the key audience

Extension activities work best when the people involved are active participants in both:

  • defining the issue or opportunity they want to work on, and
  • identifying goals that are personally relevant and achievable.

Your first step then, should be identifying the audience for your extension programme.


Knowing your audience

With any change in behaviour, there tends to be a consistent pattern when it comes to adoption, as shown in the diagram below.








  1. You have a relatively small group of farmers who have an issue or see an opportunity, are aware that it is affecting their ability to farm in the way they ideally want to, and are actively (or at least thinking about) seeking a solution.
  2. Then there is the larger group of farmers who, while they may have the same issue or opportunity and know that it affects them, are not yet ready to seek a solution for one reason or another.
  3. Following this is another group, which consists of farmers who have the same issue or opportunity, but as yet they are unaware of the impact it’s having on them.
  4. Finally, there are the farmers who don’t have this issue or opportunity available at all.

The best group to target initially with any extension programme is the first group, coloured green in the diagram above. This group is often thought of as the ‘early adopters’, because they are primed for action and just need the right starting point and support to get them going.

You are likely to have more success if you work initially with a group who is at least somewhat motivated to make change. Once you have some farmers on board and feeling confident, these people can help serve as champions for an idea or approach, and be critical in providing adoption support for a wider group of farmers.

IMPORTANT: Don’t assume your extension programme should require farm teams to acquire new knowledge before they are willing and able to make a practice change. You need to consider what participants already know, what they need to know, and how much knowledge they’ll need before they will want and be able to take action.

Identifying the issue/opportunity

People become motivated to make changes when they see the need to address a real problem or issue that has immediate relevance to their own situation. So clearly identifying and defining the issue or opportunity the group wants to address at a programme level is important for the success of your extension programme.

We know connectors and facilitators play a critical role in identifying the common purpose for an extension group. One of these roles will need to spend time drawing out the issues currently facing the group through a brainstorming session.



What - A process that helps elicit ideas from across the whole group.
When - When trying to identify a range of ideas, issues or opportunities.
Why - It helps engage the whole group and draws on the wider pool of knowledge and expertise of the group to generate a bigger pool of ideas, and builds better support for resulting actions and solutions.


Tips for running an effective brainstorm

  • Always start by defining the reason for the brainstorm and setting the rules for how you will work together as a group (see below).
  • Once you have set the parameters for the brainstorm session, give people a few minutes of thinking time before you begin the brainstorm itself – people can jot down ideas on a scrap of paper or on Post-it® notes.
  • Encourage each person in the group to contribute at least one idea. It is best not to go round the room in turn as people will concentrate on their ‘turn’ rather than on what other people are saying. Just keep track of who hasn’t contributed and make sure they are asked for their contribution at some stage.
  • Write the ideas offered on a flipchart or whiteboard, and keep them all in view throughout the process.
  • Don’t stop when the first initial flow of ideas slows down – keep going until the team gets its ‘second wind’. Often the second burst produces the most creative ideas.
  • Once you have come to the end of the ideas, then review them as a group – delete any real duplications, group them into similar themes (if necessary), and prioritise them so the group comes to an agreement on what they want to focus on.


The ‘rules’ for effective brainstorming

  • Wild, ‘off the wall’ and ‘out of the box’ creative ideas are encouraged.
  • Don’t interrupt or make comments while other people are sharing an idea.
  • No criticism or evaluation of ideas allowed.
  • You can build on other people’s ideas.
  • Record every idea, exactly as it’s said. Don’t reword and don’t worry about duplications – you can sort these out at the end. If an idea needs to be shortened, ask the contributor to suggest a briefer version.

For farmers to talk about issues they are facing, there will need to be a certain level of trust within the group. People don’t like to be seen as struggling or unsure, especially in front of their peers. So whoever is facilitating the session will need to help create an environment where farmers feel they can speak openly about things that are challenging them in their practice. Here’s some ways to do this.

  • Think about the best place to have your first (few) meetings with the group – sometimes somewhere less formal, like a pub, can help get people comfortable with one another before the ‘proper work’ begins.
  • Set and agree ground rules.
  • Be clear about the group’s purpose for any meeting, and gain group agreement for this purpose. If it’s a ‘get to know one another’ session first, be clear about that. If you’re then shifting the group into a ‘now let’s get down to business’ session, make that clear.
  • Acknowledge the group’s tacit knowledge – this is personal knowledge that comes from individual experience. So while the farmers may not be ‘experts’ in the sense of holding a lot of scientific knowledge or formal learning, they bring a huge wealth of existing tacit knowledge with them into any discussion. Recognising this can give farmers the confidence to speak up.
  • Consider involving a mentor (more experienced in the topic to be discussed) farmer in the meetings, with the specific brief to get them to share examples of when they have been challenged to do something new, or learning that they have gained from things that didn’t go 100% according to plan. It’s about positioning the potential benefits gained by stepping outside your comfort zone.
  • Remind the group of the advantages of talking honestly with each other:

- these are the people who truly understand what farming is like – the day-to-day realities and challenges
- sharing experiences helps minimise the risk of changing practice
- more heads means more ideas.

Defining SMART goals for the programme

To design an extension programme, you’ll need to make sure that the group’s goals are SMART. Here are two examples of SMART goals:

  • To increase our ewe scanning percentage by 10% by June 2019.
  • To increase the average weaning weight of our calves to 320 kg liveweight in the coming season.


What is a SMART goal?

A SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

- Specific

Specific means exact. The goal should be written simply and be clear about what the group wants to achieve.

- Measurable

Measurable means the group will actually see what has been done and whether they have achieved the goal.

- Achieveable

Achievable means it is a sensible goal that is within the reach of the group, with clear steps for the farm team or group to follow.

- Relevant

Relevant means it is a goal that will fulfill a need, solve a problem, or allow the farm team to take up an opportunity.

- Time-bound

Time-bound means the goal can be tackled and completed within a set time – this can be short, medium, or long term, depending on the goal that you’ve set.


How do you write a SMART goal?

When you write a SMART goal, you need to start by including the specific, measurable and time-bound components. You can then evaluate that goal to see if it is truly SMART by asking yourself a number of questions to check it is both achievable and relevant.

Is it achievable?

  • Is this an achievable goal for the group?
  • Is it achievable for the group right now?
  • Is the group motivated to work towards this goal?
  • Does the group need to set smaller goals that will add up to this one?
  • Does the group have the time and tools to do this?

Is it relevant?

  • Does the goal matter – is there a clear need, opportunity or problem to be solved?
  • Will the benefits of achieving this goal be obvious, and lead to meeting this need/taking up this opportunity/solving this problem?
  • Does the group support the goal – have they bought in to it?


When developing goals, it’s easy to get caught up in thinking first about the new knowledge that you want to share with a group. But before you do that, ask yourself instead:

“What do you want the farm team to (be able to) do differently at the end of all this?”

Write your programme goals, or even individual extension activity goals, in answer to that question first; then, and only then, ask yourself what new knowledge the farm team might need to enable this to happen.


The importance of measurable goals

You should avoid these phrases in your goals: ‘understand…’, ‘know about…’ and ‘be aware of…’.

Why? Because they’re not measurable. And if we can’t measure it, then we don’t know when it has been achieved. Or not achieved.
Instead, aim to start your goals with a verb that is measurable. For example:

  • Improve lamb weaning weight by x% by June 2020.
  • Score our ewes’ body condition at least x times per year.
  • Develop a feed budget by March 2018.
  • Evaluate the option of switching to fodder beat by 30 November 2017.
  • Identify if local soils are molybdenum deficient by July 2018.
  • Work with the local vet to develop an animal health plan by June 2018.
  • Map land management units for the property by May 2018.


A note about evaluating progress against goals

Can you help participants devise a way to set up a control group against which the ‘changed practice’ can be evaluated? Or can you document the ‘old’ state to help demonstrate the benefits of change?

Making it easy to quantify benefits and the value of change can be very effective in building confidence and credibility, as well as reinforcing the participants’ developing skills and abilities.


Using the extension approach calculator to identify an appropriate extension approach

The red meat sector has developed an extension approach calculator to help you select the most appropriate extension approach for your opportunity. By answering a series of questions relating to things like farmer awareness of the issue and the observability of benefits, you’ll be guided as to which approach may be the best to base your extension programme on for the situation.

These extension approaches sit on a continuum, and fall into three main categories:

  • Technology transfer approaches
  • Farmer-led approaches
  • Co-development approaches


Technology transfer approaches

These approaches work well for issues and opportunities that:

  • aren't complex
  • farmers are often aware of (or can be made easily aware of through direct communications)
  • have clearly observable benefits.

They involve solutions that are clearly based on understanding farmers’ needs.


Farmer-led approaches

These approaches work well for issues and opportunities that:

  • farmers are already aware of
  • have clearly observable benefits
  • involve an increasing level of complexity (e.g. at a farm systems level).

Because of the higher level of complexity, these approaches may include people such as scientists, who will help identify a solution and provide expert support to the farm team.


Co-development approaches

These approaches work well for issues and opportunities that:

  • are also complex
  • farmers may not be aware of
  • don’t have clearly observable benefits.


  • may involve change along the supply chain, with multiple participants in addition to the farm team itself
  • are often led by people off-farm, such as processors or scientists
  • may involve additional advisors to provide implementation support.


Selecting appropriate extension activities

Whatever the overall extension approach you’re taking, your extension programme needs to consist of a series of activities that are linked to, and help deliver on, the overall goals of your programme. These are activities during which the farmer group can be exposed to and evaluate new ideas and technologies, practice new skills, get input from expert advisors, and share ideas and challenges.


Whichever activities you choose to put within your extension programme, each one should have a clear, measurable outcome. That way you, the farm team, and any other people involved in providing the support will know:

  • what is intended
  • when it should be achieved by
  • who will be involved, and how.


​Successful extension programmes:

  • are based on extension activities that reflect the actual work of the participants
  • make use of real case studies from participants to ensure the programme is successful
  • provide activities that enable participants to compare their own experiences with new technology, innovation or ideas
  • provide the opportunity for participants to reflect and build upon their experience
  • allow for incidental and unplanned ‘learning’ that may occur and can be included in the programme
  • are explicit about the support and follow-up needed to embed change on-farm.


Many extension activities are suitable for use in more than one extension approach. You can select from a menu of activities, but it might help if you start by getting more familiar with some of the main types:

  • Field days
  • Workshops
  • Farmer-to-farmer discussion groups.


Field days

The concept of a field day encompasses everything from a regular, large-scale trade show running over several days (think Mystery Creek) to a one-off local farm field day that may only run a few hours to a day.

They can range from a series of structured presentations and demonstrations about farming practices and the impacts of those practices, to more informal events where participants walk though paddocks or view farm practices at their own pace, or even try things out in the field.


What are they useful for?

  • The purpose of such a day is generally to introduce new practices or technologies, and to stimulate the interest of as many farmers as possible in the time available. They are mostly a means to raise awareness.
  • When the field day is held on the land of a local farmer, that farmer may play a part in planning and running it, as well as talking with the group about their experiences of whatever specific farm management practices are the focus for the day. This can help build that farmer’s confidence, and set them up as a credible source of information and advice with the visiting group. This farmer can then play a useful role in providing adoption support.
  • Field days are often a good opportunity to identify topics of interest for future workshops or other extension activities (even research) of interest to the audience.


Field days in action

ANZCO ran a farm tour – a series of field day visits at high-performing farm businesses – for the young farmers in their 2016 pilot extension group. The farmers, together with invited experts, talked about feed planning (crops and pasture management) and stock management (in particular body condition scoring).

The group that attended were asked to undertake some ‘homework’ by way of reflecting on key points that had stood out for them. They were also asked to identify future practice decisions relating to these key points, and what additional resources and support they may need to take those next steps. This helped ANZCO plan future extension activities to follow up key areas of interest to the group.


What limitations are there?

  • Not everyone who wants to attend the field day may be able to take an extended amount of time out from their farm to do so, or be able to travel to the location of the field day.
  • If the day consists of scheduled presentations and demonstrations, the group may have to be moved on to the next topic before conversations and questions are complete.
  • Because of the size of the group, the opportunity for one-on-one conversations between all participants and the presenters is likely to be limited.
  • To properly follow up with all participants will require a significant time and resource investment.


How can you get the most from them?

  • Be clear on the goals and intended outcomes from the day. This will allow you to plan a coherent programme of presentations and demonstrations.
  • Consider how you could build small, facilitated discussion groups into the day – these could be a great opportunity to prompt participants to think more deeply about how they could apply new learning to their own situation, or explore what challenges they might have in implementing new technologies or practices, and potential solutions to these challenges.
  • Often a lot of learning from a field day comes as people walk or drive around a property together, or chat over a cup of tea. This gives the opportunity to share successes and challenges. So make sure there’s time and space for these more informal conversations to happen, alongside any structured presentations or demonstrations.
  • Plan your follow-up in advance. Consider whether you want to ask the group to complete any kind of activity after the field day, and how you will reconnect with participants after the event to make sure the momentum for making changes doesn’t get lost.



A workshop is a facilitated, activity-based session, sometimes led by a subject matter expert on a particular theme. In a workshop, participants are engaged to learn and apply the ideas being discussed to their own situations through carefully planned activities.


What are they useful for?

A well-planned, well-facilitated workshop presents an opportunity to:

  • delve deeply into a specific topic
  • connect farmers and subject matter experts
  • get participants away from the day-to-day distractions of the farm, allowing them some extended time to think about, and discuss, a particular issue or opportunity.


Workshops in action

Alliance Group ran a ‘Growing Great Lambs’ workshop with a group of Southland farmers as part of their pilot extension programme. The workshop focussed on feeding and management practices in late pregnancy that maximise ewe and lamb performance.

Two Alliance Group staff members facilitated the workshop, supported by a consultant from Farm Advisory Services, and a local farmer who shared their experiences of methods to achieve high lambing performance. To get the group thinking about the topic, they were asked to reflect on two questions before they came:

  • What would be your ideal position on farm at 1 September to optimise lamb production for the coming season?
  • What management practices have you already put in place to achieve this position?


What limitations are there?

  • The number of people that can be accommodated in a workshop is obviously fewer than can attend a field day.
  • Not all Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are highly capable facilitators – there’s a risk that a workshop can turn into a SME lecture (and therefore focus on knowledge transfer) rather than an interactive session.
  • Taking farmers out of the field and, effectively, into the classroom can take them beyond their natural comfort zone – care will need to be taken to help the participants see the connection between any theoretical knowledge shared and the practical application of that knowledge back on farm.
  • Taking time out from a busy farm is difficult for a farmer, especially if it also involves travel to a central point where the workshop is being held – a workshop needs to be scheduled at a time of year when farmers can afford to take time out.


How can you get the most from them?

  • Set clear goals for the session. Think beyond a general topic and identify clearly what you want participants to do or think differently as a result of attending. Then make sure the session is designed in a way to deliver on those outcomes.
  • Consider who is the best person or people to facilitate the workshop. Sometimes it helps to have co-facilitators who can each bring something different to the session. To be effective, the lead facilitator does need to have strong facilitation skills.
  • Plan some preparation reading, reflection or practical tasks that participants complete before attending the workshop to get them into the best space for learning.
  • Arrange follow-up activities that encourage participants to go back and apply their new learnings to their own situation – this is more likely to promote longer-lasting behavioural and practice change.


Farmer-to-farmer discussion groups

Farmer-to-farmer discussion groups consist of farmers who meet regularly to discuss and swap ideas concerning their farms. They are self-directed and rely on the shared knowledge and experiences of the farmers within the group.
Where appropriate, the group discussion can be supported by input from invited providers of expertise such as rural advisors, vets and scientists.

Overall, these groups can serve as a powerful extension activity that supports knowledge transfer, idea generation, and networking/relationship building both within the farming community and outwards to other trusted advisors.



What are they useful for?

  • We know that farmers value learning from other farmers. Discussion groups offer an informal platform for farmers to have conversations about topics that are of immediate interest to them. They can share ideas, experiences and solutions with people who they respect and who understand the reality of their farm business.
  • Discussing the pros and cons of an idea, or practice, enables group members to share ideas, offer advice, and form opinions about whether a practice will work on their own farm.
  • They offer a means for farmers to keep up with industry trends.
  • Social interaction between farmers is an often unplanned, but rewarding, aspect for farmers who are part of an ongoing discussion group.


Farmer-to-farmer discussion groups in action

An Agribusiness Technical Support Officer at Silver Fern Farms has been working with two farmers in North Otago, who are keen to pull together a farmer discussion group focused on business and financial management. The SFF Officer agreed to facilitate early meetings of this group, with the help of a subject matter expert, an Agricultural Consultant.

Each of the farmers talked to a range of people they knew about getting involved in the group. One of the provisos of being involved is a willingness to share their farm’s financial information as part of the group discussion. To get the group comfortable with this idea, the first meeting was held at one of the initiating farm businesses – the Agricultural Consultant went through the farm’s financial analysis and the group were able to tour the farm and discuss what actions might be needed to make improvements.

By the second meeting, more farm businesses had joined the group. This meeting began with a discussion on ground rules facilitated by the SFF Officer in order to determine how the group would operate. The second farm business was then the focus of the remaining discussion, again using farm financials as the foundation.

Future meetings will be scheduled to rotate through the remaining farm businesses that have joined the discussion group, giving each farmer an opportunity to get the collective ideas of the group as to how they might make the most of their farm business.


What limitations are there?

  • It can be difficult to keep a group focused in a more informal setting. Being clear on the purpose for the meeting can help with this.
  • A closed group that operates with a set membership may start to get stale after a while – the number of ideas and perspectives can be limited without new members to introduce fresh ideas and experiences.
  • Farmers wanting to join the group once it has already been meeting for a while may find it challenging to enter into a group that has already formed strong personal relationships.


How can you get the most from them?

  • Discussion groups work best when they have a targeted membership – for example, finishing farms, or organic farmers. If members’ interests or philosophies are too diverse, it can make the exchange of practical ideas difficult because participants will find it challenging to apply the conversations to their own situations.
  • Farmers will usually attend their first discussion group meeting because they have been personally invited – either by another farmer or someone who is playing the connector role within your extension programme.
  • Consider what meeting location and time will work best for the intended participants. Working it in around a meal, or at least snacks and drinks, can help set the stage for people to talk informally and feel comfortable speaking within the group.
  • Whoever co-ordinates the first meeting should generally serve as the facilitator, at least for that first session. The group needs to agree on what its purpose is and what it wants to accomplish – so the facilitator needs to help the group to be able to define its overall direction.
  • It may help if people take turns to take on key roles (such as organiser, facilitator, or note taker, as appropriate) within the group to keep discussions on track and to share the workload.


Want more detail?

You might like to read Farmer to Farmer Discussion Groups


Identifying relevant information resources

To effectively support your extension activities, you will need to identify relevant information resources. These resources may be used before or during an extension activity. They may also be a component of the adoption support you provide as follow-up to an activity.

You have two options when it comes to information resources:

  • use existing ones
  • create your own.


Here are just a few examples of resources that have been developed for recent extension programmes, with an explanation of how each has been used.


Example Intended audience When used Purpose
What can you do on the computer now? – Stage 1 Farmers attending a 4-week computer course Handed out in first session; revisted in final session

- To evaluate farmer’s current skills and get them thinking about what they really want/need to learn.

If we don’t grow it, we can’t sell it! Farmers attending a day long workshop on soils management Emailed out one week prior to workshop - To position the learning objectives for the day.
- To introduce the SMEs who will be facilitating the workshop.
- To engage the farmers attending, both before and during the workshop, by talking them through how to take a soil sample from their own farm to bring to the workshop for analysis.
Explaining your genetic plan to your farm team Farmers and farm teams Farmers can download this PDF after they have completed an online module on ‘Buying better rams’ - To cascade the learning gained through the ‘Buying better rams’ online module from the farmers through to the rest of their team.
- To give farmers the confidence to talk with their own teams about their farm’s genetic plan by providing them with key talking points and simple examples they can use to frame this conversation.
Using genetics to improve the health of a flock Vets Extension Managers can share with vets in their area; an accompanying resource to the farmers ‘Buying better rams’ online module - To support the adoption of farmers developing genetic plans, by providing trusted consultants (in this case, vets) with some key points to reinforce with farmers about heritability and genetic information for key health traits that is collected for NZ flocks.
Guide to on-farm field trials Farmers A resource made available to farmers within an extension group - To help take the guess work out of their decision making by walking them through the basics of on-farm field trials, giving them the confidence to set one up on their own farm.
- To provide a template, and some practice using that template, to design an effective on-farm field trial.


Want to see more?

The Knowledge Hub is an ever-growing, searchable online library of information resources that you can adapt or adopt for use in your extension programmes.


The key to a good information resource

If you go down the route of creating your own resources, keep the following key guidelines in mind:

  • Be very clear on the purpose of the resource – what is trying to achieve, and when and how will it be used?
  • Think about the audience – farmers like plain English, using language they’re familiar and comfortable with.
  • Keep it short – the best resources are often one-pagers: quick summaries of key points in bullet point format.
  • Think visually – many people find it easier to take in information in a visual form. Can you represent a process as a diagram with pictures for each step? Or can you show your audience what something looks like on-farm with a series of photos? Or would a short video work even better?

Selecting appropriate adoption support activities

If we revisit the red meat sector’s extension system model, we’re reminded that adoption support is a critical component of any successful extension programme. Think of extension like a three-legged stool – if you remove one of the supports, the whole thing will tumble. By properly investing planning time and resources into adoption support, you will be ensuring the ongoing success of the extension programme by offering the farmer group appropriate support to apply skills and knowledge gained into their own situations.



We recommend you consider the following factors when deciding what adoption support to include within your extension programme:

  • With adoption support, you’re targeting application of new technology, skills or knowledge on-farm. Ask yourself if the support you’re considering putting in place will help the farmer build the confidence to implement the desired practice change.
  • Any adoption support needs to involve credible providers – farmers need to trust the advice and guidance they are given.
  • The farm group themselves may also have suggestions for who could provide useful adoption support – make sure you ask them.

And remember – adoption support can come through a range of channels, and be provided by a range of people, including other farmers.


Channel Who can provide it? What benefits does it offer?
One-to-one consulting - Rural consultants
- Systems consultants
- Agronomists
- Bankers
- Veterinarians

- Gives farmers access to independent, impartial advice.
- Consultants can tailor the advice to the specific farm businesses.

Coaching and mentoring - Other farmers
- Veterinarians
- Rural consultants
- Allows more experienced peers or specialists with specific knowledge to offer guidance, practical advice, encouragement and support.
- Allows farmers to strengthen their networks of people who can offer useful advice and support.
Farm peers Other farmers from the same farm group - Helps keep the farm group accountable to each other as they apply new knowledge and skills to their own situation.
- Offers the group ongoing support to share and jointly problem-solve through challenges as they arise.
Webinars - Scientists
- Extension agents
- Meat processors
- Agronomists
- Rural professionals
- Other farmers
- Allows you to capture expertise that may be only intermittently available.
- Allows contact with farmers spread over a wide geographic range, when face-to-face meetings would be difficult to organise.
- Can be interactive, allowing the presenter to respond to questions submitted by participants.
- Offers a non-time-bound follow-up opportunity beyond the initial activity – since they can be recorded and re-watched or re-listened to at a later date.
Text or Facebook follow-ups - Scientists
- Extension agents
- Meat processors
- Simple, quick, and cost-effective.
- Can be used to send reminders to take action, reinforce key points, pose follow-up questions for the group to reply to or reflect on, or even encourage the group to report back on results and share any ongoing challenges or learnings.
Digital resources - The Knowledge Hub
- YouTube
- Directs farmers to quality resources relevant to the goals of your extension programme or an individual extension activity.
- Introduces participant farmers to (or reminds them of) a wide range of searchable resources that they can refer to in their own time.


Finally, remember to follow-up on the follow-up. Work with the farmers and the people providing adoption support to capture the challenges and successes that arise during this phase of the programme and share them across the group.

Deciding how success will be measured

It’s critical to consider what success might look like – as measured through changed attitudes, behaviours and practices amongst the target audience.

We’ll go into evaluation of the programme in greater depth in a later section of these guidelines, but for now think about how each of the questions below would be answered in relation to the change you are asking participants in your extension programme to make (Adapted from: Over the Fence, Ministry of Primary Industries, 2015, p.19).

  • The ideal: What is the overall vision for what the programme will ultimately achieve? It may be that the vision is unobtainable – an ideal rather than a target.
  • Personal drivers: What would each participant within the programme like to achieve? By better understanding the needs and wants of individual participants, you can better know where people’s strengths and passions lie.
  • The optimal: What do you think participants most value? This is an area that you may learn more about as you receive feedback on the programme as you roll it out. This information can then be used to help you determine what’s feasible and what works.
  • The achievable: What can be delivered in the desired timeframe with the available resources?
  • The specification: What are you expected to deliver? This is defined after an agreement and a budget have been developed and are reported through milestones, KPIs, and regular reports.

Developing an annual extension plan

Once you’ve identified the main extension approach you want to use to frame your extension programme, and selected the activities that might best support implementation of this approach, you’ll need to do some planning.


What should be in your plan?

The red meat sector’s Approaching Behaviour Change website has a template for an annual extension plan that you may find useful.


What time scale should you be considering?

Some goals will be long-term, and may take several seasons (or even years!) to realise. Others will be more short-term, and can be targeted in just a few months.
Your plan should cover at least the next 12 months.


Who should you share the plan with?

Are there people you need help from to implement this plan – either within or outside of your own organisation? These are the people who you must get buy-in from early on, and sharing your plan with them can help you give them an overview of your planned extension programme.

It can certainly help to explain to any contributors – facilitators or subject matter experts – how their piece fits into the greater picture. And sharing your plan can help to do this.

Finally, you need to decide if you will share your plan with the farmer participants of the extension programme themselves. Again, it can be helpful to give them at least an overview of your plan for the whole programme, so they can understand how the various activities you have planned will build towards the overall goals you have identified as a group.


How often do you need to revisit and review the plan?

Your extension plan should not be a static document. You will need to revisit it every few months, or following a significant activity – review how things are going against the overall programme goals and any outcomes you identified for individual activities.

  • Were those goals or outcomes achieved?

o If they were, how can you build on them further?
o If not, why not?

  • Are those goals and outcomes still relevant?

o If they are, what else do you need to add into your extension programme to help deliver on them?
o If not, what should they be replaced with?

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