An education and outreach program with The Nature Conservancy to empower peer groups in the Great Lakes region to improve their nutrient management practices.
THE ISSUE: Peer to peer learning networks are effective in driving change but need support to do so
Across the board, research shows that farmers learn best from and are most likely to trust other farmers. Building peer networks for farmers to engage with each other around conservation is an effective way to disseminate education, drive conversation and consideration, and ultimately spur adoption of practices. But impact doesn’t happen without intentional support. To be effective, these peer networks need a central set of resources to engage around, discuss, share, and use as a basis for their interactions.
OUR SOLUTION: Empower peer learning networks through educational resources
Taking all that Farm Journal knows about reaching farmers effectively, we collaborated with The Nature Conservancy to produce a mini docu-series of videos, titled “The Bay Way”, and featuring interviews with farmers and their advisors across the Saginaw Bay of Michigan. The videos are designed to be shareable and easily consumable – leading to effective use by peer groups for discussion purposes, both formally and informally. By sparking conversation around nutrient management issues in the Saginaw Bay, using actual Bay residents and farmers, the video series aims to empower farmers to engage with their peers – to learn and ultimately act.
WHAT’S NEXT?: Ensure peer groups are equipped with the tools they need
Organizations working with peer networks should ensure the networks are equipped with the tools and resources they need to thrive. By having a content library centered around the subject matter and tailored to local needs, groups can ensure that their peer networking activities are effective. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, having a digital library of resources helps facilitate dispersed and socially distant peer network learning – minimizing the disruption the groups face in terms of engaging around the key messages.
WANT TO LEARN MORE? Read a press release about the project here: https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/msu-receives-1-million-epa-grant-supporting-water-quality-in-michigan