Cover Image
close this book Forestry training manual for the Africa region
View the document Acknowledgements
View the document Trainee guidelines
Open this folder and view contents Training program overview
Open this folder and view contents Conducting the training program
Open this folder and view contents Presenting the sessions
View the document Words about transition
View the document Session 1 : Welcome, expectations, and evaluation criteria
View the document Session 2 : Special projects
View the document Session 3 : The forests of the world, peace corps' forestry goals, the individual volunteer's role
View the document Session 4 : Record keeping - group process
View the document Session 5 : Video tapes
View the document Session 6 : Agro-forestry data collection
View the document Session 7 : Feedback
View the document Session 8 : Flowers, seeds, the beginning
View the document Session 9 : Nutrition
View the document Session 10 : Non-verbal communication
View the document Session 11 : Germination
View the document Session 12 : Coping skills
View the document Session 13 : Basic site selection, planning & layout of a nursery
View the document Session 14 : Review of trainees' nursery plan
View the document Session 15 communication through illustration
View the document Session 16 : Soil preparation, seedbed sowing
View the document Session 17 : Individual interviews
View the document Session 18 : Reproduction by clippings and nursery review
View the document Session 19 : Introduction to extension
View the document Session 20 : Protection and record keeping (Insect collection)
View the document Session 20A : Chicken preparation
View the document Session 21 : The volunteers' role as an extensionist
View the document Session 22 : Tropical horticulture: care, tending and disease control
View the document Session 23 : Women in development - part I
View the document Session 24 : Team building
View the document Session 25 : Building and using a rustic transit
View the document Session 26 : Women in development - part II
View the document Session 27 : Working with groups as an extension worker
View the document Session 28 : Trees: identification & planting
View the document Session 29 : Lesson plan and use of visual aids in teaching
View the document Session 30 : The ugly American
View the document Session 31 : Catchments - sowing of seedlings into catchments
View the document Session 32 : Weekly interview
View the document Session 33 : Agro-forestry
View the document Session 34 : Community analysis introduction
View the document Session 35 : Soils
View the document Session 36 : Community analysis
View the document Session 37 : Irrigation
View the document Session 38 : Review of expectations - mid-way
View the document Session 39 : Problem analysis
View the document Session 40 : Soil erosion
View the document Session 41 : Species report - research demonstration
View the document Session 42 : Cultural values
View the document Session 43 : Wellbeing
View the document Session 44 : Field trip overview
View the document Session 45 : Agro-forestry reports
View the document Session 46 : Weekly interview
View the document Session 47 : Leave on week-long field trip
View the document Session 48 : Pesticides
View the document Session 49 : Review of field trips
View the document Session 50 : Resources
View the document Session 51 : Area measurement, pacing, compass use
View the document Session 52 : Compost heap - greenhouse construction - germination percentage
View the document Session 53 : Culture shock
View the document Session 54 : Range management
View the document Session 55 : Grafting and fruit trees
View the document Session 56 : Professional approaches to interaction with host country officials
View the document Session 57 : Project planning: goal setting
View the document Session 58 : Final interviews
View the document Session 59 : Ecology teams presentations
View the document Session 60 : Graduation

Session 27 : Working with groups as an extension worker

Total time 1 hour 45 minutes


- For the trainees to understand the benefits of doing extension work with groups,

- For the trainees to understand group dynamics,

- For the trainees to understand the variables to risk taking.


This session focuses on extension work. Working with groups is stressed as a method of extension work.


1. Working with Group as an Extension Worker


Sample lecture.

Exercise 1 Working with Groups as an Extension


Total time 1 hour 45 minutes


This session focuses on extension work. Working with groups is stressed as a method of extension work.



1. The trainer lectures on the benefits of doing extension work with groups of people rather than individuals. The trainer discusses group dynamics and stresses risk taking. (Sample lecture follows)


30 minutes

Trainer’s Note: The lecture should be in your own words. Use situations with which you are familiar to stress points.

Sample Lecture

Why organize Groups

Both subsistence farmer a and large land holders are less disposed to take risks on an individual basis. The behavioral tool, however, or the risk-shift phenomenon largely used in a business-making atmosphere, can be used more effectively to promote risk taking by small groups of people involved in collective decision making.

Small groups of people concerned with decisions that involve some element of risk, unlike large group members, will, after engaging in various modes of group discussion, make a collective decision that is far more risky than would be their individual decision on the same matter. That group discussion on a matter of importance must take place to the point of group consensus on that particular matter before the shift occurs is a key element.

In the case of subsistence farmers, much depends upon the extension agent's ability to explain the risk involved to group members, and consequently show how the new technology substantially exceeds, in cost/benefit advantages, the farmer's present traditional technology.

For example, if an extension agent suggests to a group of farmers that a particular technology or agricultural technique could improve productivity, but is unable to explain how much the technology would cost, where it could be obtained, how to use it and what benefits could be expected from its use, one can rightly predict that conservative influences will prevail and a risk decision will not be taken to adapt the technology.

There are four major hypotheses that support the process of group acceptance of risky technical innovations. The four are leadership, familiarization, diffusion of responsibility and risk as cultural value hypothesis. In order for risk-shift to occur, regardless of the particular hypothesis, a group discussion to the point of group consensus on the issue must take place beforehand. Without discussion and consensus, the shift will not occur.


In the leadership hypothesis, it is believed that certain group members are viewed as both natural risk takers and group leaders who have an above average influence on the rest of the group membership. The risk-shift condition is believed to occur because these people are inclined to be more dominant and/or influential in the group discussions and consequently influence the group in the direction of accepting risk. A behavioral problem with the leadership approach, however, is that leaders can be either conservative influencers or risk takers under certain circumstances. This brings us back to the extension agent's ability to explain adequately the nature of the risk involved. Once convinced that a suggested program is adequately organized and supported, leaders become effective promoters.

Extension agents should be made aware of the potential effect, negative and/or positive, opinion leaders in village societies can have upon the transference of new technology to group members.


Group discussion allows persons to become more familiar with the issue being discussed. Because they know the other group member's attitudes towards risk, members will be more willing to take a risk. (Rogers: "There appears to be a pooling effect in media forums (groups) by which those members who begin at lower levels of knowledge, persuasion, or adoption gain more in these respects than do forum group members who begin at higher levels. Knowledge reduces risk.")

A group of farmers who have attained the minimum capacity to function as a cohesive decision-making unit should test a technology by discussing and becoming familiar with its objective before making any decision. A wrong decision could result in the foes of crops.

Diffusion of Responsibility

It is felt that group discussion and cohesion develop emotional bona a between members and free individuals from full responsibility for a risky decision. An individual feels that his/her decision has been shaped by the group and if it fails, he/she is no worse than the others since they will fail together. It is difficult for subsistence farmers particularly in the Latin American countries to establish strong emotional bonds with each other when they are related. In Latin America there appears to be a areas deal of factionalism. Short term groups will probably not develop strong emotional ties.

This hypothesis cannot account for cautious shifts. It does not specify how the creation of emotional bonds among subjects makes them less concerned about the negative consequences of risky decisions.

Developing the emotional bonds which are necessary for risk shift is more important than simply exchanging information.

Risk as Cultural Value

This hypothesis maintains that moderate risk has a cultural value which develops during the life span of a group and causes individuals to view themselves as being as willing as the other group members to take risks. Peer pressure is the major mode to conform those not reflecting the views of the majority of the group.

All of the hypotheses interact in varying degrees to produce the shift in small group decision-making.

Let's go back to familiarization and talk about that process, information exchange, feedback and group discussion.

Variables to Risk Taking

Not Known or Understood

Not Within Farmer's Managerial Competence

Farmers may have heard about a new technology but the comprehension of its purpose or effective utilization may require additional knowledge and skills.

Not Socially, Culturally or Psychologically Acceptable

Development literature gives many examples of a new practice or a new technique not being adapted because it would severely upset the established patterns of social, economic or political organizations.

Not Technically Viable or Adequately

Often the new recommended technology has not been locally adapted or tested under conditions which closely resemble those faced by the farmer. Subsistence farmers are shrewd and can discern whether the new variety or practice has had enough adaptive research and local testing to meet their unique needs.

Not Economically Feasible

Probably the biggest cause of resistance to change is the unprofitabilty of the new technology as seen by the farmer. Often the new technology requires the purchase of additional inputs to achieve the higher productivity. When the farmer compares the expected output plus its associated income with the additional costs of the input, the balance sheet employing the new technology is found wanting.

Not Available

Often the new technology is embedded in a physical item such as seeds, pesticides, fertilizer or equipment. Unless the new item is readily available to the farmer in quantities at the time he needs it, knowledge of its potential contribution to his agricultural production will not result in its adaptation.


2. Divide into small groups and give each group a different problem (see examples). The trainees are to search their own experience for specific examples of

situations in which they encountered a similar problem and the solutions used in that group situation. Would it work in the host country?


30 minutes


3. The groups give their presentations to the large group on problems, similar experiences, and possible solutions:

Problem Examples

- Problems that ensure that effort is maintained when extensionist is gone,

- To get outside organizations (including local governments, voluntary organizations and technical departments) to cooperate in forestry extension work,

- To get local leaders to cooperate,

- To work in a community divided by racial or religious factions or by other factional rivalries,

- To regain the confidence of a community once it has been lost.


15 minutes


4. The trainer draws ideas from presentations that apply to extension work and asks for generalizations about groups from the participants.


5 minutes


5. The trainer summarizes the three sessions on extension work. He/she concludes with the following:


25 minutes

A. Relative advantage is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes. The relative advantage of a new idea, as perceived by members of a social system, is positively related to its rate of adoption.

B. Compatibility is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as consistent with the existing values, past experience, and needs of the receivers. The compatibility of a new idea, as perceived by members of a social system, is positively related to its rate of adoption.

C. Complexity is the degree to which an innovation is perceived as relatively difficult to understand and use. The complexity of an innovation, as perceived by members of a social system, is negatively related to its rate of adoption.

D. Trialability is the degree to which an innovation may be experimented on a limited basis. The trialability of an innovation, as perceived by members of a social system, is positively related to its rate of adoption.

E. Observability is the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others. The observability of an innovation, as perceived by members of a social system, is positively related to its rate of adoption.

(Communication of innovation by Rogers & Shoemaker)

After studying more than 1500 publications on the diffusion of ideas and the change process, Rogers and Shoemaker found that extensionists were more successful when they:

1. Expand more effort in change activities with communities;

2. Are community oriented rather than change agency oriented;

3. Propose programs compatible with community needs;

4. Have empathy with their communities and community members ;

5. Are similar to their community members ;

6. Work through opinion leaders ;

7. Have credibility in the eyes of their community;

8. Increase their community's ability to evaluate innovations .

References "Training for the Cross-cultural Mind,. The Society for International Education, Training and Research, Washington, D.C., 1980.

Communication of Innovations: A Cross-Cultural Approach. Everett Rogers and Floyd Shoemaker, New York Free Press, 1971.

Organization for Rural Development. Allen D. Jedicka, Praeger Publications, 200 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017, 1977.