Improving Your Board’s Effectiveness!

Are you a member of a board or steering committee of a farmer, consumer or commodity organization? Are you responsible for facilitating the work of a board? Does the board function well? Could it do better?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, we hope you’ll join Tara Kelly, Executive Director of the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) and WAgN Director Mary Peabody for an interactive webinar on practical steps to take to develop and maintain strong board membership. The “Board Development: Charting a Course for Successful Selection, Support and Retention” webinar will take place Tuesday, March 1 from 11am to 12:15pm ET.

Why should farmers — who are busy enough minding their own businesses — care about nonprofit boards?

* In Vermont and many other places, nonprofit organizations, producer associations and grassroots groups have been key players in efforts to strengthen food system and enhance our working landscape.

Around Vermont, for example, there are scores of food and agriculture-related nonprofit organizations and associations. Some are oriented to particular commodities and production approaches — The Vermont Grass Farmers’ Association and Vermont Vegetable and Berry Growers’ Association, are two such examples.

There are statewide organizations, such as Vermont Farms! which promotes agri-tourism, and Vermont Fresh Network which works to connect farmers with chefs. Add to those localvore and anti-hunger groups, and regional organizations such as Vital Communities in the Upper Valley, the Hardwick-based Center for An Agricultural Economy, and Burlington’s Intervale Center. There are now over 60 Vermont farmers’ markets, and each of them is governed by a board of directors, as is the Vermont Farmers Market Association.

* As diverse as these organizations are, they have one thing in common. They all have boards (and/or advisory committees) which oversee their activities and finances. And as agricultural and food organizations, farmers are on their boards. A well-functioning board is critical to the success of the organization. But great boards don’t just happen. It takes work to create and sustain effective boards. The payoff: effective organizations.

Board work is challenging but can be rewarding, too. Tara’s presentation will present the key concepts of board development drawing from her experience starting up new organizations as well as serving on more “mature” boards. Tara served on a wide variety of boards over the past 17 years, and is now the first executive director of a rapidly growing local farm and food organization that is currently transitioning into a new organizational stage. Concepts covered will include recruitment, orientation, fostering continued active board participation and the need for ongoing board development.

This webinar is part of the University of Vermont Extension’s Building Capacity series. The mission of this project is to provide education and technical assistance to build leadership for the nonprofit sector as well as small associations, boards, committees and commissions.

No pre-registration is required and there is no fee to participate! About 15 minutes prior to the start time simply go the Elluminate meeting room at:

You will be presented with a login screen that has an “Enter as Guest” option. Enter your full name and click “Enter Room” to join the conference. You will be able to hear the audio directly from your computer’s speakers.

Newcomers to on-line learning are welcome! If you have not participated in a webinar before, we recommend you download the necessary software for free the day before the webinar is scheduled at:

For more information, contact Lindsay Jones, Building Capacity Project Coordinator at 802-751-8307 or 1-800-545-8920 (toll-free in VT)

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UVM Extension launches a new project build capacity

The newly launched Building Capacity project strengthens UVM Extension’s ability to provide education and technical assistance to Vermont’s nonprofit sector as well as the many small associations, boards, committees and commissions that do so much of the work that sustains the quality of life for Vermonters.

Building on a history of successful educational programs in this area, we focus our efforts on an innovative “toolbox” of leadership and capacity skills organized around learning modules delivered using a variety of media. These modules meet the individualized needs of the participants while maximizing the efficiency of the organizations. We provide entry-level skills that can be completed alone or combined into longer, more in-depth programs. Module topics scheduled for development include: Board Development; Developing Volunteers; Ethical Leadership; Leading through Change; Staff Development and Evaluation; Strategic Planning; Team Leadership; and Working in Teams.

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