March into Better Management through Labor Ready Trainings

Mario Miranda Sazo and Master Class graduate Luis Garza stand in orchard talking

Mario Miranda Sazo and Master Class graduate Luis Garza, of Sandy Knoll Farms, discuss the importance of communication and professionalism in the context of orchard management and leadership.
Nicole Waters / Small Farms Program

Management skills are not something people are born with, but are learned with time and practice. With labor as one of the largest on-farm costs, it is wise to invest in people and improve your management skills. Are you managing your labor well?

Our Labor Ready project works to ensure that new farmers and advancing employees in our region can access high-quality information, supportive networks and proven tactics essential to effective management of labor. These efforts support new farmers scaling up and Latino agricultural employees to move up the ladder of management on existing farms.

We are excited to be co-hosting two intensive sessions of “Supervising Farm Employees” training this March. Farm owners and managers, you will leave with the skills you need to effectively hire, train, and supervise your farm’s employees.

Eastern NY: March 2-3, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Dutchess County CCE in Millbrook, NY.
Please register by February 25, 2020.

Western NY: March 16-17, 2020 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Orleans County CCE in Albion, NY.
Please register by March 10, 2020. 

Each training will also have an optional morning session focus group, “Exploring Novel Approaches to Farm Labor,” offered from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on March 3 and March 17. We will discuss potential farm labor models and the opportunities, challenges, and interests of each one. Be prepared to provide your input and feedback! Breakfast and a $50 Amazon gift card will be provided as compensation for your time and feedback. The focus groups are limited to the first 12 participants to sign-up. Contact Nicole at to sign-up.

The agenda for the Supervising Farm Employees trainings will cover:

Moving From Individual Performer to Supervisor – “People don’t leave bad companies, they leave bad managers.” The skills that make someone a top performer on the farm do not necessarily translate to being a great manager of people but supervisors are often selected from the pool of high performers in an organization to reward them for their contribution to the organization, without consideration of their people management skills or aptitude. This session will help you identify the skills needed to be a great supervisor of people, and how you can develop and apply those skills on your farm.

Onboarding New Employees – Onboarding is a relatively new term that describes the process of bringing new employees into the business. The goal of onboarding is to have safe, productive, and engaged farm employees, from day one. Learn to create an employee onboarding program for your farm with clearly assigned responsibilities, designed training experiences, full regulatory compliance, and basic evaluation. You will also learn about the onboarding program being developed by a team of ag industry professionals and how your farm can participate.

Performance Management – This is where the rubber hits the road in management. One of the hardest challenges of management is effectively communicating performance expectations to employees and ensuring that those expectations are carried out. This session will cover effective communication, developing training and assessment programs that get your employees off to a good start and providing timely and supportive feedback to get the best out of your staff. Tools we will discuss include using standard operating procedures, other communication strategies, training resources and feedback and incentives.

The workshop trainings will be led by:

  • Richard Stup, director of the Cornell University Ag Workforce Development Program
  • Elizabeth Higgins, the Ag Business Management Specialist with CCE’s Eastern NY Commercial Horticulture Team
  • Mark Wiltberger, the Ag Business Management Specialist with CCE’s Lake Ontario Fruit Team.

Register Now for the “Supervising Farm Employees” Training

Nicole Waters

Nicole is the Beginning Farmer Project Coordinator for the Cornell Small Farms Program. Her work focuses on the human side of farming, with the day-to-day operations of the Labor Ready Project as her main priority. Trained in organizational communication, leadership, and English as a Second Language (ESL); Nicole’s work aims to foster healthy and positive working environments through professional development programs.