Do You Actually Know How to do a Peer-Review Inspection with Impact?

Posted on March 22, 2022

Peer Review Class

Peer inspections are at the heart of our certification process, and a top reason farmers are drawn to CNG. For several years we have been evolving our distinct approach, to maximize the value it offers.

Last fall we combined two somewhat recent innovations to create a third:            ROI icon

Observed Inspections (2019)
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Remote Inspections (2020)
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Remote Observed Inspections (2021).                 

Our first Remote Observed Inspections (ROIs) were intended to help newer CNG members (observers) learn from more experienced farmers how to conduct a peer-review inspection. They were surprisingly well-received, as we reported here. Yet we also saw how these ROIs could be even more valuable, with a bit more guidance for the Senior Remote Inspectors (SRIs) conducting them. We also realized we'd need many more SRIs in order to host more ROIs, and offer enough observer seats to satisfy interested members. So this winter, we developed a new educational offering. 

CNG's new Peer-Review Training teaches the fundamentals of what it takes to conduct a robust peer-review inspection. At the heart of the training is a two hour class, short videos, and a series of quizzes based on the class and two Study Guides. Farmers who complete these elements may enter the final stage: receiving a practical assessment with individual feedback, observing an ROI, and then ultimately conducting an ROI and debriefing afterwards.

While the training was initially designed for developing Senior Remote Inspectors, the curriculum will be used for the benefit of all CNG producers, and the class will be offered again to a broader swath of the CNG membership later this year. But already we've accomplished so much.

So far, 34 CNG farmers have taken the class, and now are in various stages of competing the process. We look forward to announcing our first cohort of Senior Remote Inspectors later this spring. Each of our new SRIs will have dedicated more than eight hours to complete the training. We are very grateful for their hard work and their commitment to sharing their knowledge, building their skills as peer-reviewers, and ultimately making ROIs more accessible and educational. 

Our curriculum is built on the idea that there are five "Hats" that a peer-reviewer needs to wear in order to deliver a high-quality inspection. The hats correspond to the different roles they will play: Guide, Educator, Detective, Mentor, and Reporter.

The five hats

We got creative representing these roles during our 2nd Class! Pictured above are the course facilitators and developers during a post-class debrief. Clockwise from top left: Clay Brady, farmer at Foster Brady Farm & SRI; Alice Varon, Executive Director; Keegan Athey, Certification Specialist; Tom Farquhar, farmer at Sandy Spring Gardens & SRI; Erin Worrall, Social Media & Programs Coordinator.

If you're interested in participating in an upcoming Peer-Review Class, register your interest here. Priority will be given to SRI candidates, but current and former CNG farmers will be given the option to fill open seats.

If you are interested in observing an ROI this spring, let us know here. We'll be giving priority consideration to SRIs in training and CNG members within their first few years of certification, but we'll be happy to include others when we have open seats. 

If you're a CNG farmer interested in receiving an ROI, register your interest here. Please note that requirements to receive an ROI include at least two prior in-person inspections and a stable internet connection that can support a video call around the whole farm using your cell phone or tablet.