AMES, Iowa — A growing number of practitioners across the United States are working to create and enhance thriving, equitable local and regional food systems – many using information they gained from Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.
These food system practitioners have identified a need for professional development opportunities to build their skills and capacities.
In August 2019, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service formed a cooperative agreement with the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach Farm, Food and Enterprise Development Program. The purpose of the agreement was to work with national partners to agree upon a set of core competencies that food system practitioners deemed essential to their success.
Under the leadership of Craig Chase, FFED program manager, and Courtney Long, program coordinator with FFED, a diverse group of more than 30 partners from a variety of sectors identified nine core competency categories for food system practitioners. They ranged from community capacity and equity to policy and business development. See the full project report at www.extension.iastate.edu/ffed/wp-content/uploads/2020_CoreCompetencyFinalReport.pdf.
The group then agreed upon a set of sample learning objectives related to each competency. Finally, based on a national survey, the team developed a matrix of existing curricula from providers across the U.S. that can meet one or more of the learning objectives.
“Relating to agricultural marketing, extension educators identified a need for curricula that address emerging markets and consumer trends,” said Long. “Building skills in those areas will help food businesses and farmer clients improve profitability.”
The next step recommended by the project team is to create an online public access portal listing existing curricula based on the identified competencies. The portal also would offer information to assist food systems practitioners in understanding the logistics of accessing the curricula (location, costs, registration, etc.)
- Food Systems Core Competencies Project Summary
- USDA Project Report
- Example Competency-Based Learning Objective Matrix
- Existing Curricula Tool and Directory
— Courtney Long, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach
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