Building Farm and Family Resilience

A photo of a children and adults walking hand in hand on a farm with cows.

Supporting professionals who work with the farming population; agricultural producers; and community members in strengthening and enhancing our food systems.


Farms and farm families experience ordinary and extraordinary stressors and change because of the interdependent nature of the farm family business and farm family living. Yet many farms, workers and farm families are resilient — they can withstand events and disruptions, market fluctuations and weather resiliently. 

They usually live and/or work on land that is fundamental to the farming enterprise. The health of that farming system impacts the health and well-being of farmers, workers, families, other businesses, organizations and communities. Those systems can provide support to the farming enterprise so that it can prevent and overcome risks to build resilience. 

The focus of this web page is increasing understanding and confidence with building resilient farms and resilience among people associated with the farm.  Since 2017, several Extension professionals and faculty have worked to:

  1. Cultivate a better understanding of resilience in farming systems and farming populations
  2. Clarify factors that prevent risk and increase resilience
  3. Develop programming to address stressors and build resilience

This webpage is provided to support professionals who work with the farming population; agricultural producers; and community members in strengthening and enhancing our food systems. Included here are publications, tools and videos you can use for your own professional development and for working with the farming population.



Braun, B and Pippidis, M. (2020). Farm and Farm Family Risk and Resilience: An eFieldbook for Extension Educational Programming (2nd ed., 1st rev.). Kansas City: Extension Foundation. ISBN: 978-1-955687-00-3   

Abstract: This guide can be used to strengthen the ability of Extension professionals to reduce risk and stressors and increase the resilience of farms and farming families within the context of a socioecological framework. The guide was created to help professionals think and act through a research-based, theory-informed, multidisciplinary approach to addressing problems and issues, and creating solutions. The Guide provides the foundation for understanding how resilience frameworks can be applied to farm enterprises and the individuals and families working on farms and offers assessment and educational tools that can be used with professionals, farm audiences and decision makers.


Pippidis, M., Braun, B., Ketterman, J., Inwood, S., Wright, N. (2022). Engaging Communities through Issues Forums - A How to Guide. Kansas City: Extension Foundation

Abstract: Solving complex problems and creating change usually occurs at multiple levels of systems. Using strategies like community forums helps to engage multiple people and organizations in ways that can create change and even transformation. This Guide explains strategies for using issues forums, provides examples of how to structure community engagement events and provides “our story” that show cases how our team planned and conducted issues forums both online and in-person on two different topics. Appendices provide some tools you can use to successfully plan a community forum.



for Educators and Community Members 

Engaging Strategically to Build Farm and Farm Family Resilience  - Over the 3-part professional development series you will increase your understanding of how to integrate theory-based risk and resilience concepts into contemporary programming across Cooperative Extension’s program areas; develop confidence in your ability to engage community members in building resilience of farms and farm families; and learn how to create a plan of action for incorporating risk and resilience and community engagement.

Session 1: Integrating Resiliency Thinking into your Extension Farm and Farm Family Programs

Building resilience in our farms and farm families complements agriculture risk management programming. Built on the foundation of the Extension Farm and Farm Family Risk and Resilience Socio-Ecological Model for building resilient farms and farm families, you will be well on your way to integrating resiliency in your programming. During this session you will be introduced to a Resilience Thinking and Doing Worksheet with action steps, identify tools and resources you can use to support your programming efforts from the Farm and Farm Family Risk and Resilience A Guide for Extension Professionals E-Fieldbook, and identify key partners to support your efforts.


Session 2: Engaging Your Community to Strengthen Farm and Farm Family Risk and Resilience

It takes a village to build resilient farms, farm families and communities. A key strategy is to frame problems to be more inclusive so community partners will work to collectively build farm and farm family resilience and provide avenues to build collaborations that cultivate change on a broader scale.  During this session you will learn how to frame problems inclusively, identify strategies to make impact at multiple levels (individual, family, community), learn strategies for collaborative engagement and walk away with a draft of the Farm and Farm Family Risk and Resiliency Planning Worksheet that will help you outline your collaborative solutions to create change.  

Session 3: Engaging Community Members in Addressing Community Issues Together – An Introduction to the new How to Hold a Community-Issue-Focused Forum eFieldbook

Public issues need an engaged public to find solutions. Cooperative Extension is well positioned to bring members of communities together to explore public issues. Community forums are one way to increase understanding of issues and to identify actions.! During this session you will become acquainted with the new How to Hold a Community-Issue-Focused Forum eFieldbook, learn what a forum can be, its value, how on-site differs from online forum  and identify the steps to use to plan and implement a successful community engagement on important issues. The presentation team will also share examples and learnings from forums held in 2018-19 (face-to-face) in Delaware, Maryland, and Ohio and in 2021 (online) across the Delaware-Maryland Eastern Shore.  You may be surprised by the outcomes.

View workshops

You can access each of these three workshops on our UD Extension YouTube channel


Farm and Farm Family Risk and Resilience Toolkit

This toolkit provides several tools educators can use to apply the socio-ecological model to risk management and resilience educational programming for farm audiences.


Program contacts