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Welcome to Facilitation Stories, where we discover how facilitators ended up in the profession, and how facilitation methods, principles and techniques are used more widely. Brought to you by IAF England and Wales. For more information on our chapter, click here.

Apr 12, 2022

In this episode of Facilitation Stores, host Helene Jewell is joined by guest Lisa Morgans

Lisa is a vet, researcher and facilitator. She is Head of Livestock at Innovation for Agriculture – an independent knowledge exchange charity based in England that works to bridge the science-practice gap and support farmers as they transition to a more sustainable, resilient and productive farming system. Lisa has a PhD in participatory action research and before that worked as a veterinary surgeon in a mixed veterinary practice in Cornwall.

Lisa talks about the variety in her role, from project management to facilitating knowledge exchange activities and translating policy into information for farmers. Also, part of her role is training vets in facilitation skills as they are such good skills to have.

Over this episode Helene and Lisa discuss the methods used in Lisa’s workshops, which follow the principles of participatory action research and farmer led innovation. They discuss the similarities between Lisa and Helene’s sessions, which although Lisa’s can often take place in the farm itself often have the same type of activities and approaches.  Lisa’s methods are often quite visual, and she uses different methods to engage farmers, like the use of ping pong balls for ranking.

Lisa talks about the change in communication skills training for vets, and the use of different methods to inspire their clients to change. Vets are looking at different ways in which they can use their skills, and so can see the benefit of facilitation to help with that. Helene asks Lisa how the facilitation community can help the veterinary community. Lisa talks about working with both the professional bodies in the sector, as well as individual vet practices to understand their needs, and how facilitation can help.

Helene and Lisa talked about the need in the veterinary sector for accreditation and professional bodies, and how that is different with the IAF who are encouraging more people to promote themselves as facilitators, to raise the profile and understanding of the role.

Lisa shared the challenge of moving to online with the projects that she was supporting at the start of the pandemic, as often they were focused on bringing whole farm teams together with other teams from across the country, or even other countries. However, Lisa was surprised at how quickly the farming community adapted to online tools. More recently, engagement has been more difficult as some people had become comfortable with online and so have struggled to come back to face-to-face sessions. Helene reflected on the same challenges, and how this has led to the IAF England & Wales conference in May 2022 being all about hybrid facilitation.

Lisa wraps up by talking about the opportunity for facilitation in the farming community, especially as farmers are coming together to work at a landscape scale to make changes, they want to learn from each other and there aren’t enough independent facilitators working in the industry. So if you’re interested, you can work in a fast paced environment with lots of policy changes and an engaged group.

You can contact Lisa on Twitter  @LisaMorgansVet and Innovation for Agriculture on their website or via Twitter @innovationforag