Bailey, N. E., Arnold, S. K., & Igo, C. G. (2014). Educating the Future of Agriculture: A Focus Group Analysis of the Programming Needs and Preferences of Montana Young and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. Journal of Agricultural Education, 55(2), 167-183. doi: 10.5032/jae.2014.02167
The average age of farmers and ranchers is rising and each year, there are fewer young and beginning farmers and ranchers (YBFR).  Therefore, it is critical that agricultural educators and programmers provide learning opportunities that develop the knowledge and competencies YBFR need to be successful.  The purpose of this study was to develop a grounded theory to identify and explain the interaction between educational drivers, educational needs, and programing preferences of YBFR in Montana, in order to develop future programming recommendations.  Focus groups were utilized to gather data from a purposive sample of YBFR.  A grounded theory was developed using constant comparison analysis.  YBFR identified business management skills, legal knowledge, communication skills, and skills associated with technologies as educational needs.  Barriers such as distance, time, and lack of awareness prevented educational event attendance.  Programs were considered successful if they provided networking opportunities, relevant content, and a positive, interactive environment.  YBFR utilized different delivery formats ranging from email to face-to-face.  Preference was placed on longer duration events featuring a variety of information.  Agricultural educators need to decrease barriers and increase positive elements to reach this audience.  Agricultural organizations must collaborate to create comprehensive, impactful programs focused on developing the skills and knowledge of YBFR.
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