Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems Certifications offered virtually

September 21, 2020

By Courtney Long, Program Coordinator, Farm, Food, and Enterprise Development

Screenshot from virtual local food leader certification.Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Community Food Systems program staff worked hard this summer to transition the Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems trainings and certifications to a virtual format.

Early September marked the launch of virtual Local Food Leader and Community Food Systems Certifications. Both certifications were sold out with cohorts of 16 for Local Food Leader and 21 for Community Food Systems. Each course incorporates a dual-format curriculum with virtual workshops through Zoom and an online course within Moodle.

The Local Food Leader Certification teaches foundational competencies critical for successful food systems development through integrated virtual workshops and four online modules. These include equity in food systems, working in food systems, facilitation and coordination, evaluation and professional development. The online modules offer intensive curriculum including community food systems overview, methods of engagement and leadership, creating teams and tools for success, and evaluation. The certification process takes four months and costs $375.

The Community Food Systems Full Certification is a process-based certification that increases capacity for food systems practitioners to work within communities and develop food systems. The virtual workshops center around activities and networking with colleagues to learn a new framework for community food systems development.

The certification process focuses on building new skills for facilitation and developing vision, mission and core values; tools for conducting community food systems assessments; prioritization methods; evaluation techniques; and project management and development.

The online modules offer intensive curriculum around visioning and implementation; community food systems assessments; mapping for decision making; and tools for project management and evaluation, feasibility studies, economic impact, and design thinking. This certification program takes eight months to complete and costs $600.

After receiving certification, attendees have the opportunity to take a train-the-trainer course to be able to offer the workshops in their own communities. The Community Food Systems team is hoping to offer an in-person train the trainer this winter. However, the course is also available virtually.

The team is planning to host a second course for Local Food Leader in spring 2021, as well as a Community Food Systems certification in fall 2021. Those interested in more information regarding the course, can contact Kaley Hohenshell, food systems program coordinator (kaleyh@iastate.edu), or Courtney Long, food systems program manager (court7@iastate.edu).

The Community Food Systems program is housed within the Farm, Food and Enterprise Development and Community and Economic Development programs of ISU Extension and Outreach.