Author: Boudine Kruger
Many things can contribute to the success of projects at GCBR. One thing, however, that we aim to prioritise is farmer education and awareness. Without proper resources and awareness building, we cannot expect farmers to understand the beneficial impact our projects may have on their land or expect them to always know the most ecologically sustainable course of action in their farming activities. Of course, this means that we must employ professionals who can help us build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with these landowners, managers and farmers.
Halcyone is an extension officer for the GCBR that acts as a liaison between farmers and the necessary resources they may need and also provides answers to questions about the ecological-agricultural interface. We recently met up with Halcyone and asked her a few questions about her extension work duties.
What Is Extension Work?
According to Halcyone, the number one requirement of becoming an extension worker is that the individual must love coffee and be able to discuss the weather! This is because much of the work lies in building meaningful relationships with farmers or landowners. As an extension officer, you must be able to engage well with strangers and be a good listener, making an effort to really understand the concerns and issues that are most important to the landowners.
From there, the extension officer will find a way to put the landowners in contact with the appropriate resources, information or support that can address their specific problem. This is why Halcyone sees her role as one of filling the gap between landowners and resources by pinpointing opportunities and searching for appropriate solutions. This is not just to ensure the profitability and sustainability of each landowner, but this will ultimately also help in the efforts to create a sustainable environment.
What Does a Day In Your Life Look Like?
Halcyone’s job involves visiting the farms of landowners and discussing their most vital needs with them so that she may go out and find the appropriate resources to help them. She adds that most landowners she comes across are already doing brilliant work on their farms towards sustainable practices and mostly only need help or guidance in a few areas. These areas of support often occur because landowners and managers might be overworked and overloaded, which means that they don’t have the time to go searching for information or help themselves.
The resources accessible to these farmers may also not be sufficient or helpful. Halcyone’s every day consists of trying to improve the efficiency of farms through awareness and education, which is why she must always be on the hunt for efficient resources. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Halcyone has all the answers when she meets up with a farmer. If there are issues that she does not have answers to, she will seek to learn more about the topic and find solutions, which she will interpret and convey to the landowners and managers.
What Other Responsibilities Does Halcyone Have?
One of the other vital roles that Halcyone plays for the GCBR is that she distributes important information, that has been compiled by the GCBR, to various landowners. This information includes, amongst other things, feedback on ecological surveys done in the area and information about important ecological issues in the area.
Engaging with the landowners and conducting surveys with them highlighted key areas of concern and knowledge gaps. The result of these surveys was the production of different management guidelines that landowners can use. These guidelines discuss various topics such as the management of wetlands, the management of invasive alien plants, the management of natural veld areas and the management of wildfires. These resources can offer valuable insights for farmers in need of specific guidelines.
How Can I Become a Part Of This Project?
Contacting Halcyone and using her extension work skills will cost you nothing. There are no contracts or fees, and any landowner that would like to get involved can contact Halcyone or the GCBR directly. We would love to discuss your project or needs as a landowner to help you find the best resources for you.