Over the Fence Handbook

Over the Fence Handbook – Designing Extension Programmes to Bring About Practice Change.  Is a useful, practical handbook published by the Ministry for Primary Industries, New Zealand in 2015.  The authors M. Casey and T. Rhodes of PGG Wrightson Consulting and T. Payne, M. Brown and R. Dynes of AgResearch Limited; designed it to help people develop and deliver extension programs.

It states that “It is intended to help you think about how to develop an effective programme that will assist participants in understanding new or change practices, accessing information or resources and changing their practice or behaviour if required.  In the handbook, the term “adoption” is used to encompass the many terms that can be used – technology transfer, adaption, extension, research use and uptake, knowledge brokering or co-innovation.”

The handbook is not intended to provide only recipes and quick results.  Throughout the handbook the authors have provided practical and relevant guidance, shaped by their own experiences and knowledge of successful extension programs.  It also contains several key case studies.  A variety of tips, ideas and practical examples are included which can be added to your own repertoire of experiences and learning.

The handbook states that “The Why” behind it is: “All too often there are a set of assumptions about how to design extension programmes.  Typically these will include meeting the milestones and KPIs of the funder and then delivering workshops, field days, producing hand-outs and delivering presentations to end users; such as foresters, farmers, agribusiness representatives and consultants.  Successful extension programmes, however, are much more.  They involve planning and ongoing monitoring and refinement throughout the programme and effectively responding to unexpected issues and outcomes as the arise.

The adantage that a highly effective programme can create include:

  • More rapid understanding of benefits
  • Higher level engagement and willingness to change
  • A greater proportion of target group changing behaviour
  • Higher level of successful implementation 
  • Increased credibility for all involved in the programme

The handbook has two sections:

Section 1:  Principles of Extension

  • What you need to think about to design an extension programme
  • Barriers to Adoption

Section 2:  How to Design a Programme

  • Planning your programme
  • Hwo is your programme going? (monitoring, evaluation and review)
  • How to deliver

The Ministry for Primary Industries is the New Zealand government department focussed on the success of their primary industries.  Through their work they aim to help maximise export opportunities for New Zealand primary industries, improve sector productivity, ensure the food they produce is safe, increase sustainable resource use, and protect New Zealand from biological risk.  It has more than 2,200 staff working in 70 locations across New Zealand and overseas.

Content source further Information

The New Zealand Department of Primary Industries can be found here:  https://www.mpi.govt.nz

A pdf version of the handbook can be accessed here:  https://www.mpi.govt.nz/document-vault/9920

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