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The national Lifetimewool project: a journey in evaluation

Dart, J. J., Curnow, M., Behrendt, R., Kabore, C., Oldham, C. M., Rose, I. J., Thompson, A. N.
Animal production science 2011 v.51 no.9 pp. 842-850
agricultural programs and projects, animal husbandry, case studies, ewes, flocks, grazing management, growers, guidelines, learning, participation, planning, sustainable agriculture, teams, wool, wool production, Australia
The national Lifetimewool project commenced in 2001 and was funded until 2008. The objective of this project was to develop practical grazing management guidelines that would enable wool growers throughout Australia to increase lifetime production of wool per hectare from ewes. The project achieved its ambitious target of influencing 3000 producers to change their management of ewe flocks by adoption (or part thereof) of Lifetimewool messages and guidelines by 2008. The present paper focuses specifically on the evaluation work that was conducted on the project between 2003 and 2008. It is a noteworthy journey because it provides a case study of the effective implementation of an evaluation plan. The Lifetimewool project used ‘people-centred evaluation’ to help guide the creation of an internal evaluation plan. The six core principles followed were: participation; program logic, a people-centred focus; multiple lines of evidence; reflection and learning and a clearly documented and resourced evaluation plan. These principles were applied from the onset of the project. The Lifetimewool team used the evaluation findings to refine the initial design. Based on learnings from their evaluation journey, they created and modified the extension and communications components of the project. The present paper contends that the evaluation process itself enabled the project team to plan and adjust the course of the project through evidence-based reflection and that this helped ensure that the targets were achieved and demonstrated.