Skip Navigation

Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills - Level 1

Upcoming Level 1 training dates and locations

Strenthening Your Facilitation Skills participants

“I think that enough people have sat at really poorly run meetings, that they might not know why or how it happened, but they recognize a productive meeting. My goal is to run meetings and have the meeting moving along. I do not have to be aggressive or obvious. People don’t even realize I’m running it. That is perfect.” – Community Member

Upcoming Classes!

Bangor, Maine

Dates/Times: Wednesdays, October 7 & 21, November 18 & December 2; Thursday, November 5, 2015, 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Location: 307 Maine Avenue, Bangor, Maine
Course Fee: $125
Instructors: Jane Haskell & Gabrian McPhail

Class is currently full.  For more information please contact

Registration questions email

Wells, Maine

Dates/Times: The fall/winter/spring 2015/2016 dates and times will be announced soon.  For more information please contact Kristen Grant.
Location: Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve, 342 Laudholm Farm Road, Wells, Maine
Course Fee: $120
Instructor: Kristen Grant

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

For scholarship information, please contact Kristen Grant,

Registration is closed.

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, 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…

  • build stronger dynamic groups
  • run more effective meetings
  • have increased confidence
  • practice techniques you can use
  • increase your awareness of what & who makes your group work

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.


Jane Haskell teaching Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills

Learn why participants are so excited about the SYFS, Level 1 Training Series!

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:

  • what needs to be accomplished
  • task design, flow and sequence
  • communication patterns
  • appropriate levels of participation
  • group energy, momentum and capability
  • the physical and psychological environment

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

  • Learn facilitation skills identified by you and other participants
  • Observe facilitation challenges, such as constant change, competing priorities, changing team members, limited time and carefully guarded resources;
  • Practice skills in an experiential setting and receive feedback in a safe environment;
  • Complete a self-assessment;
  • Receive a resource notebook; and
  • Commit to building the capacity of your community by donating three hours of facilitation time to a group of your choice.

Training Objectives

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

  • Learn core facilitation competencies
  • Observe facilitation challenges such as constant change, competing priorities, changing team members, limited time and carefully guarded resources
  • Practice skills in an experiential setting and receive feedback in a safe environment
  • Commit time to build community capacity by volunteering facilitation skills to a community group or organization

Day 1: The Basics

3 participants in Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills workshop

  • 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

Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills, Level 1 flipchart notes

  • 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 Maine’s 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,

Kristen Grant, 
Extension Professional, Maine Sea Grant and 
University of Maine Cooperative Extension

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

Jane Haskell, Extension Professor, University of Maine Cooperative Extension

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.


Gabrian McPhail, Community Facilitator, Vinalhaven, ME

Gabrian McPhail, Community Facilitator, Vinalhaven, ME

Gabrian McPhail,  has been facilitating community groups since 2000. She is a graduate of SYFS Levels 1 and 2 and co-author of the SYFS Level 1 Curriculum. She has co-taught Levels 1 and 2 with Jane for many years. Since 2008, she has lived and worked on the island of Vinalhaven, organizing and building community through sustainable agriculture and experiential education programs. Gabe is a professional graphic designer, restaurant owner, and a 2017 MBA degree candidate at the University of Exeter’s One Planet MBA program.

Participants have said:

  • “I invest more time in preparation and to better identify those people with personal agendas.”
  • “I have more confidence in my facilitation skills.”
  • “I liked being with others . . . who are fun and inspiring and having specific ideas to put into place and a time to practice.”
  • “I learned how to clarify assumptions, listen and then ask the right questions.”
  • “The training offered me tools I was oblivious to before and gave me creative ways to work with tools I already had.”

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.

Back to Strengthening Your Facilitation Skills