- Do you provide agricultural extension services to landholders in the Reef catchments?
- Would you like to learn more about creating and sustaining peer-to-peer farmer learning groups?
- Are you keen to explore ways of further improving our extension practices to enable greater change in the Reef catchments?
- Do you want to share your knowledge, experience and insights with others working to enable change?
- Are you tired of focusing on the technical aspects of farming, and want to better engage with the people (such as the farmers, suppliers and agronomists)?
If so, here’s your personal invitation to participate in the Reef Extension Think Tank…
What: A half-day Peer-to-peer training workshop followed by a one-and-a-half-day Unconference (see below for an explanation).
Why: To support large-scale land management practice change, resulting in improved water quality entering the Great Barrier Reef.
When: Wednesday 20 to Friday 22 March 2019.
Where: Mercure Townsville, 166 Woolcock Street Townsville QLD 4812.
Who: Extension service providers, researchers, agronomists, funders, evaluators, policy makers and others working to enable greater change in the Reef catchments.
Cost: The Enhanced Extension Coordination project will cover the cost of the Think Tank including all learning materials and catering (morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner). Participants only need to cover their travel and accommodation costs. A travel and accommodation subsidy of $200 is available for non-government extension service providers working in a Reef region. It will be reimbursed to your organisation after the event upon presentation of accommodation and/or travel receipts equal to, or greater than the subsidy. Limited to the first 100 people, with no more than five from the one organisation, to register their interest prior to the event using this form: https://goo.gl/forms/AB3ilyLYKkAKqhGm1.
Accommodation: Rooms are available at the Mercure Townsville (https://www.mercuretownsville.com.au/ ph 07 4759 4900) and please mention the code DAF200319 for special rates. There are many other venues nearby, including The Lakes Holiday Park which is right next door (https://www.securalifestyle.com.au/parks/lakes/ ph 07 4725 1577).
The activities included in the Reef Extension Think Tank include:
- Peer-to-peer training workshop (Wednesday)
- Unconference (Thursday and Friday)
- Please also join us for the informal BBQ dinners taking place on Wednesday and Thursday evenings, and network with others attending these events.
- A Drum circle is being held on Thursday evening, as an optional activity allowing participants at the Reef Extension Think Tank to join together and create a fun and exciting musical experience using a range of percussion instruments.
All the above activities will be provided free of charge to registered participants.
Peer-to-peer training workshop
Viv McWaters of Beyond the Edge (see bio below) will share her insights from working with Landcare and other groups across Australia to help you better form and facilitate peer-to-peer learning groups for farmers. The target audience for this half-day workshop is extension providers delivering services to farmers in the Reef catchments. This workshop will help participants to better understand:
- the benefits of using the peer-to-peer learning approach,
- the key elements of this approach,
- when it is and isn’t appropriate to use,
- the steps involved in forming a peer-to-peer learning group, and
- tips and tricks for running a successful peer-to-peer learning group.
Workshop participants will receive a booklet outlining some of the key points mentioned in the workshop plus additional information on forming new groups, maintaining existing groups, and keeping meetings alive – and not forgetting the social aspect of farmer groups.
This event will enable participants to explore ways to further improve our extension practices to enable greater change in the Reef catchments. The Unconference approach allows you to co-design your own agenda by nominating and discussing topics of interest. This approach works best when the topic is important to the participants, is complex and there are multiple ways forward.
Everyone present will be invited to nominate issues, questions and ideas for discussion. You’ll be able to self-select small groups to further explore and discuss the topics of your choice. You could nominate a topic as a good idea (which you’d like to share and build upon with others) or as a good issue (for which you’re searching for possible solutions). Either way, you’ll be surprised how beneficial it can be having others share their thoughts and ideas with you.
There’ll be an opportunity towards the end to discuss options for progressing some of the ideas and $50,000 in grants is earmarked to kick-start suitable projects. It’s a high energy, high satisfaction event, and while a bit unconventional, is usually fun and low stress. Viv McWaters and John James will facilitate the overall process.
Wednesday 20 March 2019
Peer-to-peer training workshop
12:00 pm Participants arrive and register
12:30 pm Lunch
1:00 pm Session 1
3:00 pm Afternoon tea
3:30 pm Session 2
5:00 pm Workshop concludes
6:00 pm Additional participants may arrive and register
6:30 pm Welcome BBQ dinner
9:00 pm Close
Thursday 21 March 2019
8:30 am Additional participants may arrive and register
9:00 am Welcome, connecting and agenda setting
10:30 am Morning tea
11:00 am Concurrent session 1
12:00 pm Concurrent session 2
1:00 pm Lunch
2:00 pm Concurrent session 3
3:00 pm Afternoon tea
3:30 pm Concurrent session 4
4:30 pm Plenary session: evening news
5:00 pm Close of day 1
6:30 pm BBQ dinner
7:30 pm Drum circle
9:00 pm Close
Friday 22 March 2019
8:30 am Plenary session: morning news
9:00 am Concurrent session 5
10:00 am Morning tea
10:30 am Action café
12:00 pm Plenary session: wrap-up
12:30 pm Lunch and finish
About the facilitators
Viv McWaters, Beyond the Edge, is a highly regarded facilitator and trainer. She has worked in journalism, communications, community education, training and strategy development. She now specialises in group facilitation and participatory evaluation, drawing on her background in the natural sciences and arts. She studied agricultural science at Longerenong Agricultural College, has a Bachelor of Arts in Media Studies from RMIT University, and a Masters in Applied Science (Agriculture and Rural Development) from the University of Western Sydney. Viv lives by the beach in southern Australia and has worked in over 40 different countries, mainly in Asia and Africa. This has helped fuel her passion for birdwatching and street art.
John James, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, is passionate about enabling change and building the capacity of those providing extension services to landholders in the Reef catchments. As the Manager (Reef Extension Training Development), he is delighted to be coordinating this event and assisting with the facilitation.
Who do I contact with any questions?
Please contact the event organiser John James, Manager (Reef Extension Training Development), Department of Agriculture and Fisheries: t: 07 4529 4125 m: 0417 617 572 e: firstname.lastname@example.org
When do registrations close?
Registrations close at 5:00 pm on 12/03/2019, as we need to advise final numbers for catering a week beforehand.
Can I update my registration information?
Yes but please do so before 5:00 pm on 12/03/2019, otherwise the nametags we print will be incorrect. Please contact the organiser after that date so that changes can be made manually.
Is my registration fee or ticket transferrable?
Err, it’s free! We’re happy that if you can’t attend that you arrange someone else to take your place. Please do so before 5:00 pm on 12/03/2019, otherwise the nametags we print will be incorrect. Please contact the organiser after that date so that changes can be made manually.
What if I have special dietary needs?
Please let us know when you register if you have any special dietary needs.
Is there parking available at the venue even if I’m not staying there?
You are welcome to use the Mercure Townsville carpark, which has over 200 complementary on-site car parks.
What if a cyclone is forecast during the event?
Cyclones are a natural part of the summer weather pattern in Far North Queensland. If a cyclone is forecast to dramatically affect the event, we will contact you at least five business days in advance with a weather update. If the event is postponed, it will be held on 15 to 17 May 2019.
Should I prepare a PowerPoint presentation for the Unconference?
No, save your energy for the real work! The philosophy of an Unconference is that participants engage in informal discussion about topics that are important to them. These will be held in multiple locations, often outdoors and without access to power points, so there won’t be any PowerPoint presentations! You’re welcome to put your thinking cap on now though, and even bring along a prop or something to stimulate the discussion around a topic you propose.
How do I propose a topic to be discussed during the Unconference?
During the agenda setting session, you will be invited to nominate a topic related to ways of further improving farmer practices in the Reef catchments. You will be invited to write a short catchy title on a piece of A4 paper and then announce the topic, inviting others interested in discussing that topic to join you during one of the five concurrent sessions.
How do I choose which topic to attend?
Once all the topics have been nominated, they will be displayed on a wall, showing the location and time. You then get to choose which topics you’d like to discuss. There will be multiple topics offered in each of the five concurrent sessions, so you choose the ones that interest you the most.
But what if I want to attend two topics being held at the same time?
As Malcolm Fraser told us, life wasn’t meant to be easy! As you may know, that is a paraphrase of a line from Back to Methuselah, a play written by George Bernard Shaw. It goes on to say “Life is not meant to be easy, my child; but take courage: it can be delightful”. We encourage you to be courageous and choose the topic for which you have the greatest passion, and if you change your mind part way through, you can politely leave and go to the other one.
Will the Unconference just be a talkfest without any resultant action?
You’d be surprised how much action can result from a group of passionate people animatedly discussing a topic for one hour. There will also be a session towards the end of the Unconference where we’ll discuss ideas that we’d like to act upon and $50,000 in grants has been earmarked to kick-start suitable projects.
If I propose a topic, do I get to talk about it for the full hour?
The purpose of the sessions are for all group members to actively participate in the discussion. As the topic owner, you get to introduce the topic and share your ideas, and you then help guide the discussion for the rest of the time and encourage all present to contribute.
But I’m not a trained facilitator; how can I lead a group for an hour?
Relax and you may be surprised how easily it happens. Just introduce yourself and share why the topic is important to you, and any particular ideas you have. Then invite others to share their thoughts and ideas.
What if we finish in less than an hour?
Simple… do whatever you’d most like to do in the time available. Go for a stroll, grab a coffee or a bite to eat. Just be considerate and don’t interrupt any other groups that are still going.
Have questions about Reef Extension Think Tank? Contact John James