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Cooperative Extension: Community Development

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Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills - Level 1

Upcoming Level 1 Curriculum dates and locations

Upcoming Fall Classes!

Bangor, Maine

Dates/Times: Wednesdays, October 8 & 22, November 5 & 19, and December 3, 2014,  9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Location: 307 Maine Avenue, Bangor, Maine
Course Fee: $120
Instructor: Jane Haskell

Register online for Bangor Session

Minimum number of participants needed for the class to be held: 9. Maximum: 17

For scholarship information, contact Mary Michaud at

North Berwick, Maine

Dates/Times: Tuesdays, October 14 & 28, Monday, November 10, and Tuesdays, November 25 and December 9, 2014, 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. A light meal will be served.
Location: North Berwick Town Hall, 21 Main Street, North Berwick, Maine
Course Fee: $120
Instructor: Kristen Grant

Register online for North Berwick Sessions

Minimum number of participants needed for the class to be held: 9
. Maximum: 15

For more information, including scholarship information, contact the instructor, Kristen Grant at or 207.646.1555 x115.

About the Classes

Facilitation skills are not routinely learned and practiced. If you have ever been in a role that you wished you had more skills or practice for, then Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills, Level 1 is for you.

Fun, creative, and thought provoking, the SYFS, Level 1 Curriculum is a dynamic and comprehensive five-Lesson facilitation Training Series full of activities, “lecturettes” and potential aha! moments.

This training series is designed to help you…

As a team member or chair, we are expected to produce results in collaboration with others. This is not always easy, and the skills of facilitation are not routinely learned or practiced to be effective in our work.

What is facilitation?

It is the design and management of structures and processes that help a group do its work and minimize the common problems people have working together.

Facilitation is therefore a neutral process (with respect to the content and participants) that may focus on:

By participating in Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills, Level 1, you will:

Training Objectives

The objectives for the SYFS, Level 1 Training Series are for participants to

Day 1: The Basics

  • An introduction to facilitation
  • Core values of facilitation
  • Working agreements
  • Contracting
  • Thinking & learning styles
  • Decision making options

Day 2: Facilitating for Success

  • Role of working agreements
  • Stages of group development
  • Core facilitation beliefs and practices
  • Behaviors that hinder and help groups
  • Balancing relationships and tasks
  • Developing a meeting design

Day 3: Facilitating in Action

  • Achieving desired outcomes
  • Generating, narrowing ideas and action planning
  • Identifying core facilitation practices
  • Recognizing and redirecting difficult group situations
  • Assessing facilitation strengths and weaknesses

Day 4: Facilitation Challenges & Opportunities

  • Implications of assigned work for groups
  • Using the Left-Hand Column
  • Making interventions using The Diagnosis-Intervention Cycle

Day 5: Facilitating in the Wider World

  • More decision making options
  • Clarifying Circle consulting method
  • When to use outside facilitators
  • Resources
  • Time donation contracting and evaluation
  • Celebration

During the training, participants list questions they would like to have answered by the end of the series. In the last session, they work in small groups
and are able to develop answers to the group’s questions. Learn what participants have been asking — and are able to answer at the end of the series.


The SYFS, Level 1 Training Series is based on foundational facilitator competencies developed by the International Association of Facilitators. The majority of the training focuses in three competency areas

  1. Creating an environment of participation
  2. Guiding the group process and
  3. Encouraging creative thinking

The framework within which the SYFS, Level 1 Curriculum was developed from Best Facilitation Practices. The overall format of the Curriculum embraces a solid adult education model where learning unfolds progressively, sequentially and experientially. The Curriculum allows for this to happen in the course of the each Lesson and, more complexly, continuing through several weeks of learning before the Training Series is complete.

Meet the Instructors

The Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills (SYFS), Level 1 Training Series was initially developed in 2001 by Extension Professionals Jane Haskell and Louise Franck Cyr. Beginning in 2006, Haskell and Franck Cyr along with Gabe McPhail, developed the SYFS Training Series into the National Curriculum, Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills, Level 1, which is now taught around the country.

Kristen Grant, Extension Professional with Maine Sea Grant and University of Maine Cooperative Extension, has been trained by Haskell in Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills Level 1 and will instruct this series in Saco, Maine.

As an educator focusing on community-based program development, Kristen has worked with youth and adults for over 20 years. Kristen holds a Master of Science degree as well as a Certificate of Graduate Study in Community Planning and Development. Her experiences include working with a women’s cooperative in Guatemala to teach women and girls practical skills for achieving self-sufficiency. She has also worked extensively to involve students and volunteers in community-based environmental monitoring programs that provide data to guide land management decisions. And as an Extension Professional with Maine Sea Grant and UMaine Extension since 1999, she has worked to build the capacity of coastal communities in Southern Maine to plan and adapt for their future. In order for these community initiatives to be successful, engaging local citizens is critical – but rarely simple. Working effectively with groups of people who have a common goal is the first step in this process. And skilled facilitators are needed to move this process forward in our communities. With the intent of helping people to build these skills, Kristen is now instructing the Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills Level 1 training series in Southern Maine.

If you are a person with a disability and need an accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Kristen Grant, at or 207.646.1555 x115, to discuss your needs. Receiving requests for accommodations at least 10 days before the program provides a reasonable amount of time to meet the request, however all requests will be considered. For assistance via a TTY line call 1.800.287.8957.

Jane Haskell, Extension Professor, University of Maine Cooperative Extension, brings over 20 years of experience in the design and implementation of experiential community development programs for youth and adults. Over the years she has launched several innovative Extension programs, from Voices, a school-based enrichment program for teens, to the Mid-Coast Home-Based Business Conference, the first statewide conference for home-based business owners in Maine, to producing and hosting Doing Business, a live, public affairs radio show. As a result of her community facilitation work, her latest innovation is the collaborative creation of Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills, Levels 1 and 2. The Training Series is designed to help local citizens as well as professional staff learn how to get work done more effectively and efficiently in group meetings. Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills, Level 1 has been used to train scores of volunteers and staff from over 30 organizations in Maine, and is now being used to train new Extension staff as well as citizens in other states. It has been identified as a curriculum by the National 4-H Learning Priorities to Build Effective Organizational Systems. Jane is working collaboratively to research the societal impact of having skilled community facilitators. She is a member of the International Association of Facilitators and the National Association of Community Development Extension Professionals.

Participants have said:

For more information, e-mail

Any person with a disability who needs accommodations to participate in a UMaine Extension program should contact their county office or program contact to discuss their needs in advance. For assistance via a TTY line call 1-800-287-8957.

Image Description: Strenthening Your Facilitation Skills participants

Image Description: Jane Haskell teaching Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills

Image Description: 3 participants in Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills workshop

Image Description: Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills, Level 1 flipchart notes

Image Description: Kristen Grant,

Image Description: Jane Haskell

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University of Maine Cooperative Extension

Contact Information

Cooperative Extension: Community Development
5741 Libby Hall
Orono, Maine 04469-5741
Phone: 207.581.3188, 800.287.0274 (in Maine) or 800.287.8957 (TDD)E-mail:
The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
A Member of the University of Maine System