October 2011

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Here are some of the sites and work we have seen and done during the trip to Costa Rica!


We have just finished the second day of workshops with APOT and they are a great interactive group! Yesterday, Kris assisted the board of directors in starting to move forward in their organization by updating their by-laws. Today, Bill and I led them through the first sections of developing a business plan for APOT. These individuals are very passionate about their farming operations and the ability to provide their customers with organic raised products that was very evident in the completion of the mission statement worksheets.

I have enjoyed meeting the individuals in APOT and look forward to learning more about their farming operations as we contiue through our stay here in Costa Rica. As a non-Spanish speaking individual, I appreciate the assistance of Tamara, Jim and Kris in their sharing of what the APOT members are saying and insight I have to share on this process. The interaction and questions I am receiving during this business planning program and the insight from the farmers is very similar to what I experience in Indiana.


Okay, I think I’m almost ready for this trip. We’ll be leaving the U.S. in about 40 hours. I’ve got all my presentations and handout materials prepared and roughly translated into Spanish. Lucky for me that we have team members and help in Costa Rica to proof and edit our materials before we take the stage next week.

I am really looking forward to this trip. Not only will it be an adventure for me but I hope we are able to teach the farmers there a bit about how to organize their cooperative and successfully market their products. We’ll be building on the work of the first two teams that have gone down before us, and I hope we can continue the success and skill building that they started.

So… Adios for now!

Bill Horan

The third group of extension educators is about to leave for Costa Rica to continue the work that our colleagues began in March and August. While they have shared with us all kinds of useful and helpful information about the needs, challenges, opportunities and successes of APOT (the association of organic producers of Turrialba), I think it’s one of those things that you need to see for yourself to really get a sense. I’m not quite sure what help I am bringing, though I am quite confident that we will all figure it out together. After all, isn’t this what we do in Extension? We build a relationship with a group of clients and learn together.

So, I’m arming myself with a flash drive of random bits of presentations and worksheets on topics like team building, bylaws, board roles, servant leadership, and facilitation… Many of these are pieces I am comfortable with using with English-speaking audiences. It’s going to be a big personal challenge for me to try and do this in Spanish and in a different cultural context. It’s not quite the same as presenting technical information on crop diseases–this is very interactive, often messy “people” stuff. I am nervous about not having the language skills to understand important nuances of what’s going on or to convey my own thoughts. And, yet, I am heartened by Scott’s reminder that “folks is folks.” If you believe in people, as we probably all do in Extension, you come to learn that audiences are forgiving–if you come with a sincere heart and willingness to learn and help.

I am also taking with me an umbrella, a rain jacket, rain pants, and extra ziplock bags… It’s the rainy season 🙂