Wow, it’s hard to believe a whole year has gone by since we started Farmer Coach last July. Since then, we’ve launched two cohorts of the program and continue to have our participants coming back for ongoing learning sessions.
During the first year, we delivered 124 instructional hours to 72 participants – they ranged in age from a 17-year old who aspires to take over the family farm to more senior farmers, with decades of experience, who are still challenging themselves to be better and grow the farm into something that will last for generations to come. Participants came from across Canada, the United States and even Europe to enroll in the program.
Farmer Coach only improves by soliciting feedback from course participants. We thought we’d share some of the results, things we heard and exciting plans for the future.
At the beginning of the Cohort, we asked participants why they signed up for the program and here’s what they told us:
- Prepare my farm for succession
- Learn to be a better business person
- I work with family and looking for help on navigating those challenges
- We want to continue to grow
- Instill more confidence in my ability to manage the farm
- Become a better leader
- Make better financial decisions; not just rely on gut feelings
We’ve seen incredible growth in our participants. As producers, we can tend to be a quiet bunch, holding information close to our chests and feeling a bit uncomfortable when asked to share weaknesses, vulnerabilities and worries. However, with some group discussion and self-exploratory work, we were able to dig deep into what’s really important to our learners and provide solutions, frameworks and ideas on how they can reach their goals.
We don’t engage in “group think” at Farmer Coach which is why we’re very clear about not being a peer group. Instead, Farmer Coach is based on education, collaboration and coaching that holds you accountable for your own success.
Over the course of the sessions, participants worked on long and short-term goal setting, understanding key financial metrics, navigating human resources and defining their operation’s legacy.
Here’s what our participants enjoyed the most:
- Breakdown of profit share for a Joint Venture
- Benchmarks were really interesting
- Good HR tips and knowledge including employee compensation brainstorming – “It made me think uncomfortably about my HR skills and planning.”
- It challenged my thought process and ideas
- Loved the discussions about land and expansion
- Farm branding – this really changed my perspective
Areas for improvement:
- Too short, want it to be longer
- Would like to see tools for analyzing machinery purchase
- Would like more group vs table discussions
- More time for expanded networking
Overall, our participants rated the program a 9/10. We want to thank each and every one of you for providing honest feedback – it really helps us determine how the course should evolve over time. And, it is always changing – you won’t be bored in this course and will always be learning something new.
We are looking forward to the next year of Farmer Coach. We are excited to launch our Level 2 program geared towards experienced farm entrepreneurs looking to step up to drive industry change. We have also developed a corporate program that will help industry professionals better serve and understand their farm clients’ needs. We look forward to launching these new endeavors and welcoming our current attendees of our Level 1 program back for a second year.
In the meantime, catch up on our Farmer Coach blog – our lead coach, Evan Shout, has been a prolific writer over the last year. His blogs are thought-provoking and will challenge you to think about the industry and your business goals in a different way.