Measurement and Evaluation

Evaluation uses social science research methods and tools such as surveys, interviews, focus groups, and secondary data to determine whether projects, programs, or initiatives are reaching their goals and to what extent. Evaluation tracks the activities and products of programs as well the effect of these activities, otherwise known as outcomes and impacts. Evaluation measures the changes resulting from activities on individual and group knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors, as well as organizational policy, public policy, and broader systems change such as the economy, environment, and society. Our evaluation approach focuses primarily on measuring behavioral change at the individual, organizational, and institutional level and the resulting changes in systems. We apply the principles of Appreciative Inquiry, participatory evaluation, and Collective Impact, all of which provide us with useful frameworks for better understanding how actors from multiple sectors effectively collaborate to create widespread systems change.

Best Management Practices

Video: What difference does it make? A guide to doing your own evaluation, by Corry Bregendahl for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, available at: Evaluation presentation video


Additional resources
  • Kramer, M. & Kania, J. (2011). Collective Impact. Stanford Social Innovation Review. 9(1), 36-41.
  • The Step by Step Guide to Evaluation (2017, W.K. Kellogg Foundation). How to approach evaluation; what methodologies to use and when; why community engagement and racial equity are key to the process; how to share your findings.
  • University of Wisconsin Extension Program Development and Evaluation.
  • The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments and Choices (USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, 2016, 128 pp.) This toolkit is made up of seven modules that can be grouped into two stages of food system planning, assessment, and evaluation. The first set of modules (1-4) guides the preliminary stages of an impact assessment and includes framing the system, relevant economic activities and assessment process as well as collecting and analyzing relevant primary and secondary data. For those seeking a more robust economic impact assessment, the second set of modules (5-7) provides a more technical set of practices and discussion of how to use the information collected in stage one to conduct a more rigorous analysis. Free PDF download.
  • Beginning Farmer Program Evaluation Resource Library (New Entry Sustainable Farming Project). This online library is a compilation of materials to assist beginning farmer and rancher training programs to conduct evaluation.

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