The Farm Credit Knowledge Center: Celebrating 10 Years
A decade ago, Farm Credit of the Virginias (FCV) began the journey to fill a need within our footprint: education and connection for those involved in or interested in agriculture. The Farm Credit Knowledge Center was developed with the mission to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and resources for the betterment of all farmers and those interested in agriculture. Since the inception of our educational arm ten years ago, the development of resources and partnerships has grown immensely. The Knowledge Center team is comprised of four members who focus on young, beginning and small farmers, part-time and full-time farmers, youth and educators, as well as general consumers.
Over the past several years, the depth of the resources and curriculum has expanded and enhanced. Initially, Farm Credit Knowledge Center programming was limited to in-person events and seminars; however, the program has grown to include digital and print resources, webinars, blog content and much more.
Knowledge Center Director, Kyley Clevenger, stated, “Our team believes in bringing farmers and those interested in agriculture around a table and equipping them with tools and resources to enhance their farming operations and agribusinesses. There is power in gathering.”
The value of having the opportunity to create an experience for farmers to gather in one place, learn solutions and tools to utilize when approaching an obstacle, and be able to do this in fellowship with other farmers is priceless. Regardless of the commodity, location or size of the operation, the agriculture industry is fueled by opportunities to engage and network with others face-to-face.
In-person offerings occur throughout the year in various locations throughout the Association’s footprint, focusing on topics ranging from business planning and financial literacy to succession planning and risk management. “If there is a need, our team strives to address that need. We also believe in the power of partnerships; we want to provide a connection to experts within the field or topic area,” said Clevenger.
As with evolving technology that farmers adopt to support and advance their operations, the programming of the Knowledge Center has evolved to meet the changing needs of their audience in a digital world. Agriculture is 24/7, and it can be challenging to ‘fit’ everything in one day, which challenged the team to build the online component of Knowledge Center programming. Business and financial literacy, as well as production-specific resources, are vitally important to all operators within the industry. The From the Ground Up: Agricultural Business Toolkit and the AgHub were developed with the time constraints and diverse needs of the audience in mind. Courses and curriculum can be accessed conveniently, whether from a tractor seat or around the dinner table after the animals and kids are fed.
Today, the content and materials available online continue to evolve and expand. Online audiences will find advocacy tips, farm safety, marketing and more. The Knowledge Center’s online portals contain education in multiple formats to meet users’ needs, whether that is through recorded webinars, tip sheets, blogs or infographics. The key to education is creating a space that allows the audience to learn in the best manner suited to their preferences, and that is what the Knowledge Center has strived to create.
The agriculture industry and society as a whole are increasingly connected through social media. Because of this, the Knowledge Center has developed and maintains a strong presence on several platforms, including Facebook and Pinterest, primarily. Social media enables the team to easily share resources, advocate for agriculture in the FCV footprint and beyond, and forge connections with stakeholders, industry partners, farmers and consumers.
In 2023, the Knowledge Center celebrates a decade of existence. The team has provided over 400 educational engagements across the Farm Credit of the Virginias’ footprint, reached over 10,000 followers on social media platforms, and engaged with thousands both face-to-face and digitally across the country and even overseas.
The Knowledge Center team remains dedicated to meeting its mission, working in close partnership internally with members of the FCV team across all departments. All are committed to recognizing ‘pain points’ faced by member-owners and working to identify solutions through education, resources or connections. “We are fortunate to have an extremely supportive team that values continued education and being a resource for those that we serve. This partnership within the Association is what makes the educational arm work,” said Clevenger.
“The Knowledge Center is a team of four, but it is a community, and we are so thankful for the invaluable partnerships and relationships that allow us to be a part of the education and growth of the agriculture industry. I would be remiss not to share about the power of a team who is dedicated to meet the needs of our audience. The team is devoted to and passionate about being a resource for the agriculture community. They go above and beyond to ensure that needs are met, and that the resources continue to evolve and develop,” Clevenger shared.
“There is great joy in being a part of a farmer’s success story through watching dreams come true, seeing new generations come home to the family farm, helping to improve a farm’s financial well-being through educational resources and making lasting connections with those who have walked before us. Agriculture is a supportive community that expands well beyond your next-door neighbor. The Knowledge Center team is thankful for the past ten years and everyone who has supported our journey. We are excited for the next decade as we will have exciting opportunities and partnerships, all for the betterment of our farmers," she concluded.
To stay up-to-date with happenings and educational offerings within the Knowledge Center, sign-up for one or both of their e-newsletters, which deploy regularly. Through these newsletters, you will be notified of educational programs, blog articles, partner events, infographics, commodity pricing and more.
Cheers to 10 years, Farm Credit Knowledge Center!
This feature story was published in the December 2023 Leader Magazine. Access the full magazine (digital version) HERE.