Published Dec 4, 2017

2017 Field Day Recap: Expanding Our Audience

By Laura Frescoln

Notice: Undefined index: file in /home/pfi/public_html/wp-includes/media.php on line 1734

Another successful field day season is behind us. Many staff will tell you that field day season is the most exhausting and fulfilling part of the year!  With good reason. Practical Farmers of Iowa coordinated 26 field days in 2017. Our field days brought together 1,418 attendees and covered a diverse range of topics from organic crop rotations to dried flower production to farming potholes and just about everything in between. We are so thankful to our field day hosts who shared both their farms and their experience.

As we look back at our field day statistics, many things stand out. But one in particular shows we are on a good path.  In 2017, 44% of our attendees came to a field day for the first time. This is a great indicator that we continue to provide relevant topics and our message is spreading. Thanks to all you first-timers out there! We are looking forward to seeing you next field day season.

At Practical Farmers of Iowa, we are fortunate to have a passionate group of over 3,000 members. While our members identify field days as one of their favorite types of events, we are also drawing in a much larger crowd. In 2017, 52% of our field day attendees were non-members and they identified “word of mouth” as the primary source for hearing about field days. We are thankful our mission to strengthen farms and communities is reaching well beyond our membership and thankful to our members who are inviting others to join the conversation. Please consider inviting a neighbor or friend to the next PFI event you are attending.  “Welcoming everyone” is not just a value we list on paper, but live out on a daily basis as we work to create viable farms now and for future generations.

We also encourage the learning and sharing to continue beyond our events and we are excited to report that 99.5% of you reported that you intend to share what you have learned at PFI field days with others. That is fantastic! We know that the quality of our programming coupled with the passion of our field day attendees is a way to create change. Here are a few results highlighting the quality and effectiveness of our field day programming in 2017:






















Sharing knowledge is important, but we want to see that knowledge lead to change. To evaluate this, we ask attendees to respond to their intent to change and actual changes made to their farming systems. Here are the results:

We are so thankful to our field days hosts for sharing their experiences and their farms. Our hosts for 2017 were: Jill Beebout, Matt Schuiteman, Fred Abels, T.D. Holub and Sarah Gericke, the Henry family, Maggie McQuown and Steve Turman, Phil Specht and Mary Damm, Jon Yagla and Wren Almitra, Deb and Eric Finch, Craig Fleishman, the Frantzen family, the Ausborn family, Marty and Mary Schnicker, Dave Brandt, Wendy Johnson and Johnny Rafkin, Tyson Allchin, Jan Libbey, Kevin and Ranae Dietzel, Cheryl and Mike Hopkins, Russ Wischover, Chris and Janenne Teachout, Jerry Peckumn, the Canfield family, the Rosmann family, Darla and Michael Eeten, Jamie Hostetler, Fred Howell, Jayme Fowler, and Jason Grimm. We could not have farmer-led events without you.

In addition to our summer schedule, 235 of you attended  6 spring field days in March and April highlighting cover crops. A big “thank you” to the following hosts: Wade Dooley, Jack Boyer, Bruce Carney, Russ Brandes, Ward Van Dyke, and Mark Schleisman. Keep your eyes open for announcements on our 2018 Spring Field Day series.

If you missed the action “live”, you can still get important information through our field day recap blogs and On-Farm podcast episodes:

Following our Practical Farmers of Iowa Annual Conference in January, our staff will begin the work of coordinating another successful field day season. Until then, I will leave you with a few quotes from this year’s attendees to keep you motivated until next season.

” Good diversity of topics!”

“Awesome to be out in the field, pulling up soil and doing hands on stuff.”

“Your event showcases best and most intelligent thinking I have seen! A wonderful field day. Lunch was good too!”

“So much good information, I was inspired and am looking forward to applying our information!”

“Thank you. Just wanted to come see things and keep the future vision alive.”

“It is good to see practiced applications of ideas.”

“I think honest presentation of obstacles is very valuable.”

Thanks again, and see you next year!