What began nearly three years ago with a series of focus groups held with farm managers and agricultural consultants in California, ended last month as 33 three agribusiness professionals attended an accelerated offering of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers’ Ag Land Management (ALM) Education Program. The focus groups that started the ball rolling were conducted to determine the level of interest in advanced farm management/ag consulting education. The meetings were led by Nat DiBuduo, accredited farm manager (AFM), and identified key topics of interest where coursework would be of value to those working in the industry in California.

In order to increase the relevancy of the program to California, chapter members and other experts, led by Dan Whisenhunt, MBA, reviewed and proposed enhancements to the course material. Based on that review, ASFMRA made substantial changes to its ALM materials. The modules were then delivered in an accelerated format in California so that a greater number of topics could be covered in a short time. The success of the first workshop led to a second workshop. It was clear to the chapter and to ASFMRA that this was a great new model to offer the AFM/AAC education and that the interest from attendees was very positive.

With 36 modules in the complete ALM curriculum, the question then became, how do we complete this program for those individuals who started it in California? The California Chapter and ASFMRA Management/Consulting Education Committee worked in partnership to offer the remaining modules in the Ag Land Management curriculum in an accelerated format to meet the interest in California for the AFM and accredited agricultural consultant (AAC) designations. It also allowed others around the country to condense the education for their accreditation. Designed similar to an accelerated MBA program, the coursework was fast paced. It was condensed into a shorter time period, and concluded with the opportunity to sit for the accreditation exam. What traditionally could take students up to three years to complete, requiring travel on several occasions, was delivered in nine days!

The California Farm Management/Agricultural Consulting Accelerated Education Program drew interest from 33 agribusiness professionals from California and around the country, all desiring to earn the AFM or AAC designation. Indications are that a high percentage of the attendees will pass the exam and qualify to finalize the requirements for their designations.

ASFMRA: Delivering new educationNat DiBuduo, AFM, who was instrumental in starting this program said, “I am excited about the number and quality of the attendees to this accelerated program. While still a work in progress, it is satisfying to have followed the development from the initial focus groups of three years ago, to the review of all of the ALM education modules by the California chapter, to seeing recommended changes adopted by ASFMRA. The California chapter will continue to be committed to the education and development of quality agriculture professionals in California.”

Mark Grace, ASFMRA education director, added, “This is a great example of leadership from the local level. It shows just what our organization can accomplish through chapter-national partnerships and collaboration.”

More information on the designations of ASFMRA can be found at www.asfmra.org/professional-designations or by calling Mark Grace, ASFMRA director of education and accreditation at (303) 692-1224. For information on the California chapter, ASFMRA, visit www.calasfmra.com or contact Suzie Roget, executive director at (209) 368-3671.