Nicholas Polanin, Meredith Melendez, Jenny Carleo, Jennifer Matthews, Robin Brumfield, Barbara O’Neill, Jeff Heckman
Annie’s Project, farm women, social media, Facebook, networking, distance education
Annie´s Project New Jersey provided women farmers with tools to help them succeed by focusing on five areas of farm risk - legal, human, financial, marketing, and production. The team expanded upon traditional or conventional Extension program delivery by delivering this program statewide utilizing a unique combination of in-person and distance learning technologies. Speakers had a live audience and were streamed to additional sites and presentations were recorded to facilitate continuous learning opportunities to the trained audiences as well as new online learners following the training dates. This continuously available training resource greatly assisted in the business plan development for their individual farm operations. The team also launched an active social media presence, further extending the outreach of the training and facilitating social media networking opportunities for the participants. This combination strengthened the peer-to-peer networking and knowledge sharing opportunities, thereby empowering farm women with better problem solving, record keeping, and decision-making skills. The use of social media tools in both the education of and networking among the participants sustained an interactive connection with educators and peers long after the course was completed. As a result 61.3% of participants had initiated networking via social media with other participants while plans were in place to launch a website (39%), a Facebook page (28%); host a blog (24%), or open a Twitter account (18%). There are 238 'likes’ of the program’s Facebook Page www.facebook.com/anniesprojectnj/ and according to Facebook Insights data, nearly 600 people have been reached since November, 2016. These results showcase the program's ability to make permanent changes in behavior for both session attendees and online learners, with additional progress on business plan development, networking, and sharing knowledge. Asynchronous education and archival online resources continue the outreach to women farmers, while social media platforms sustain the peer-to-peer networks and farm entrepreneurial opportunities.
Cite this paper
Nicholas Polanin, Meredith Melendez, Jenny Carleo, Jennifer Matthews, Robin Brumfield, Barbara O’Neill, Jeff Heckman. (2017) Social Media: Cultivating Peer-to-Peer Farm Women Networks in New Jersey. International Journal of Agricultural Science, 2, 37-41