‘Oiling the wheels’ to help farmers

Facilitator Lab Wilson and Beef + Lamb New Zealand national extension programme manager Olivia...
Facilitator Lab Wilson and Beef + Lamb New Zealand national extension programme manager Olivia Weatherburn take a break in Dunedin last week from running a two-day workshop teaching facilitation skills to rural professionals. PHOTO: SHAWN MCAVINUE
Rural professionals learnt the ‘‘art of facilitation’’ at a workshop in Dunedin last week.

Beef + Lamb New Zealand national extension programme manager Olivia Weatherburn, of Lumsden, said a full house of 15 rural professionals attended a two-day workshop at Scenic Hotel Southern Cross.

The workshop aimed at teaching the ‘‘art of facilitation’’ by enabling rural professionals to help a group of farmers work towards a shared goal of increasing practice change on-farm.

Lab Wilson, of Auckland, said a facilitator ‘‘oils the wheels’’ of constructive conversation, asked farmers what they wanted to achieve, helped them discover what they knew as a group and identified knowledge gaps, so they could bridge them by seeking expert advice.

Mrs Weatherburn said Beef + Lamb New Zealand was running the workshops, which were launched by the Red Meat Profit Partnership in 2018.

The benefits of farmer action group and facilitator roles had been evident since the workshops were launched.

Anyone working under the Beef + Lamb banner needed to first complete a facilitation programme, she said.

Future facilitation workshops had a ‘‘full waiting list’’.

‘‘They are capped out — we can’t keep up with demand.’’

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