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BENT Best Extension Network Team

The BENT committee

The poster introduces a forum for extension staff working in the Shepparton Irrigation Region. The Extension Forum, affectionately known as BENT (Best Extension Network Team), is a quarterly forum for public agency extension staff employed in Agriculture, Horticulture and Natural Resource Management in the Shepparton Irrigation Region of Northern Victoria. It encompasses staff from Natural Resources and Environment, Goulburn Murray Water, the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and the Goulburn Murray Landcare Network.

BENT provides extension officers with an opportunity to become familiar with other extension staff within the region, share experiences and discuss major events in their industry area. This provides an opportunity to increase the skills and competencies of new extension staff through interactions with a pool of more experienced staff.

It also provides an opportunity to learn of relevant issues across all the industry areas we work in and share successful extension approaches. The forums consist of industry updates, a brief description of current issues affecting the various industries, with a focus on the role of extension. This promotes a broad understanding of issues faced by clients from the perspective of different industry areas.

The forum also includes a structured learning session of extension practices and techniques. These learning sessions usually consist of a presentation from at least one key speaker and then working in groups to practice employing the extension techniques.

The forums are organised by a steering committee which encompasses a cross-section from agencies and programs, including Target 10, Farm$mart, Horticulture and the Sustainable Irrigated Agriculture and Land Management Team.

Participation has been high with more than 40 people attending each forum. There has been an ongoing evaluation of the forum activities and the steering committee has used that information to ensure that the participant expectations continue to be catered for.

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