Extension Management Assessment Center

The Extension Management Assessment Center for Farm Business Owners and Managers features individual and group simulations involving challenges that a farm business owner or manager may encounter.

The Extension Management Assessment Center will:

  1. Assess individual behaviors in nine critical farm business management skills
  2. Offer the opportunity to interact with and learn from other farm managers/owners
  3. Provide personalized feedback designed to improve your management abilities
  4. Initiate the development of personal action strategies focused on management


The Management Assessment Center Program has been available to farm owners and managers through agriculture associations such as:

  • Professional Dairy Producers of Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin Agribusiness Association
  • Wisconsin Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Growers
  • UW River Falls Agribusiness Student Association.

If your association is interested in offering the program for members, see the contact information below.

What is an assessment center?

Businesses and organizations have used the assessment center methodology to select, evaluate and develop individuals for managerial positions for many years.  The assessment center method is unique in that it combines standardized procedures in which competencies for a specific position are identified and assessed using both individual and group simulations and activities.

Individuals are observed and evaluated on their performance against competencies/attributes in several exercises by a team of trained assessors, using a multiple assessment technique.  This means that the feedback provided to an individual participant is based upon pooling of information, multiple observations of assessors and consensus decisions.

This assessment center is based on a thorough job analysis of farm business owners and managers and the competencies/attributes necessary for effectiveness and success.  It incorporates activities and simulations that enable a participant to demonstrate his or her skills and abilities on eight job-related dimensions.  These attributes include:

  • Communications
  • Management control
  • Planning and organizing
  • Empathy
  • Leadership
  • Teamwork
  • Decision making/judgment
  • Initiative

Activities in the Assessment Center for Farm Owners and Managers include a group discussion with non-assigned roles, a group discussion with assigned roles, a background interview, a written financial case study and a personnel discussion.


The Wisconsin Assessment Center for Farm Business Owners/Managers was developed in 2003-2004 through a USDA grant which was part of the University of Wisconsin Dairy Initiatives Program. The Center is modeled after a similar program from Ohio State University. An Assessment Center is not a building, a group of people, or a location. It is an assessment approach different from most other methods of measurement and assessment approaches. An assessment center is characterized by multiple assessment techniques, multiple assessors, situational tests, and structured procedures for making observations.

Why Assessment Centers?

  • To help select qualified people for management positions.
  • To diagnose and individual’s work related strength and weaknesses
  • To identify areas of need for improvement in managerial and teamwork skills


This program is intended to help agricultural operators develop skills needed to effectively manage their farm businesses. It is envisioned that most people who enroll will be established farm operators who want to sharpen some of their management skills and learn new skills. Other people who may wish to participate in this program are agricultural professionals who frequently work with producers.

Program Information

Curriculums developed:

  • Dairy Managers curriculum
  • Agronomy Managers
  • UW-River Falls agriculture business students
  • Value Added/Labor Intense Crop Managers-Fruit Growers


Articles appearing in Midwest Dairy Business, 2006-2007

Contact Information

If you would like more information on the Management Assessment Center or other Management Education Programs please contact your Local County Agent or Jenny Vanderlin, Management Education Coordinator, Center for Dairy Profitability, (608) 263-7795


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