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Making Capacity Building Theory Practical: The 'On the Fast Track' Project

  • Year: 2010
  • Author: Nettle, Ruth; McKenzie, John; Coutts, Jeff; Boehm, Rohan; Saunders, Diana; Wythes, Claudia; Fisher, Jane; O'Sullivan, Jenny; Kelly, Stephen
  • Journal Name: Extension Farming Systems Journal
  • Journal Number: Vol. 6, No. 1
  • Country: Australia

On the Fast Track was a project initiated, developed and delivered by the members of the Cooperative Venture for Capacity Building (CVCB). The project aimed to improve the use of CVCB research outputs by rural R&D corporation project managers and practitioners. It involved a trial of practical capacity building approaches that applied the CVCB research findings. The design involved consolidating CVCB research outputs into meaningful learning tools and supporting capacity-building practitioners in applying their learning in their day-to-day work or projects through mentoring. Sixty-three people from all over Australia participated in the project. Participants included farm/rural advisers and consultants, project officers and managers/investors, project designers and extension staff as well as people involved in community development. They came from rural industries (Dairy, Cotton, Sugar, Meat & Livestock, Horticulture, Wool, Grains), NRM/property planning, community and farmer representative organisations and research organisations. Each participant attended a 2-day workshop, applied what was learned on an issue in their own work with mentoring support over a 9-month period, and participated in a final reflective workshop. This paper provides an overview of the project's tools and processes, the key learnings from applying the approach, and evaluation of the approach. The paper concludes with insights relevant to people seeking to enhance the practice of the professionals engaged in capacity building, and to better implement capacitybuilding research.

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