Volume 42 - Number 4 - 2001 | DOI: 10.5032/jae.2001.04001



This paper considers issues related to farmers' control of program planning for non-formal agricultural adult education1. Discussion is based on an empirical study of a $10 million Canadian sustainable agriculture education program that was initiated, created, and controlled by a coalition of farm organizations, supplanting a traditional role of extension. Theories of participatory extension education provide a theoretical framework for consideration of issues in the case. Participation theory guides the formation of partnerships among extension, communities, industry, and government. In the area of sustainable agriculture, however, stakeholders may conflict, presenting challenges to engagement and decision-making processes. Moreover, agricultural education researchers have produced little data to show effects of stakeholder involvement in program planning, putting the extension system at risk of desiring increased levels of engagement without a knowledge base about potential impacts. The study was conducted over a 3-year period using cultural anthropology and participatory action research. Farmers strongly influenced five program elements: (a) staffing, (b) content, (c) instruction, (d) evaluation, and (e) composition of planning group.

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