SARE Professional Development Program Annual Report for California
January 1 - December 31, 2011
State SARE Coordinator:
Summary of 2011PDP Activities and Results
In 2011, the Western SARE PDP program in California funded six mini-grant projects that collectively resulted in ten workshops reaching600 people. Each project was awarded $4,000 and utilized remaining PDP funds from 2009 and2010. The projects addressed a wide range of topics:
1. Applied genomics for sustainable livestock breeding
2. Beginning farmer training programs
3. Increasing the understanding of policies and regulations in sustainable agriculture
4. Training and coordination of mobile irrigation laboratories
5. Strategies for agritourism support
6. Sustainable landscape train the trainer workshops
Workshop participants included Cooperative Extension specialists and advisors, AES faculty, NRCS technicians and specialists, NGO staff, government organization staff, agriculture industry representatives and UC Master Gardeners.
Context and Overview
Sustainable agricultural/food systems is a core theme throughout the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR). In fact, the ANR Strategic Vision 2025, released in April2009, outlines a new structure for ANR programs built around four new strategic initiatives, two of which are titled Sustainable Food Systems and Sustainable Natural Ecosystems. The College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis is also host to the Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI), which has maintained a strong affiliation with the Western SARE PDP program.
The PDP program is intended to provide professional development opportunities to extension educators within the University of California, NRCS, other higher education institutions, NGOs and agriculture supporting organizations. This is a very diverse audience, which is the reason I have established a mini-grant program to competitively fund projects that can have a broad reach throughout the state. This is the first time a mini-grant program was used with PDP funds in California, and it was successful in reaching a broad audience but was limited in that only UC ANR academics could receive mini-grant funds due to accounting restrictions.
Activities and Methods
The following table describes projects funded with PDP mini-grants, the project activities and the number of workshops and workshop participants.
|Workshops Held||# of Participants|
|Applied genomics forsustainable livestock breeding||Provide travel support forextension educators to visit beef cattle seed stock operations and to attend a conference on applied genomics.||0||5|
|Organizing collaborative regional training for beginning farmers in the foothills||Learn about collaborative beginning farmer programs in other parts of the US. Network with other providers of beginning farmer/rancher training. Discuss opportunities for regional collaboration to broaden the scope of beginning farmer and rancher training offered in the area.||1||32|
|Sustainable Agriculture: increase understanding of policies/regulations and improve leadership capacity||Provide information on direct marketing regulations and policies to extension educators working with producers using direct marketing strategies.||1||100|
|Collaborative regional training and coordination of mobile irrigation labs on the Central Coast||Develop collaboration and coordination of mobile irrigation laboratories used to evaluate the efficiency of irrigation systems on Central Coast farms.||3||42|
|Sharing strategies for agritourism support, a statewide perspective||Provide networking, training and resources for professionals to better support producers in developing agritourism. Speakers included Karen Ross, secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture; Martha Glass, executive director of North Carolina’s Agritourism Networking Association; leaders of Apple Hill Growers Association, and three of California’s most successful agritourism operators.||1||120|
|Sustainable landscape train the trainer workshops||Train UC Master Gardeners on sustainable practices for edible landscapes.||4||300|
PDP-fundedPublications/Educational Materials and Products
|Applied genomics forsustainable livestock breeding||
Van Eenennaam, A.L. 2011. Californians Attend Seedstock Tour Down Under. California Cattleman Magazine. October/November. Pages 34-35.Available to California Cattlemen’s Association members.
Presentation provided at conference by A.L. Van Eenennaam
|Sustainable Agriculture: increase understanding of policies/regulations and improve leadership capacity||Workshop website: Click the “Resources” menu for links to materials.|
|Sharing strategies foragritourism support, a statewide perspective||Workshop website with links to materials.|
Changes in Ag Professionals’ Knowledge, Skills and Action
|Applied genomics for sustainable livestock breeding||Information from ranch visits and conference was presented to 120 people at the California Cattlemen’s Convention Cattlemen’s College session in November 2011. Participants included seedstock and commercial cattle producers, UC farm advisors (n=7) and specialists (n=2). One of the ranch hosts will visit the United States to help develop strategies on improving the flow of genetic evaluation data between sectors of the U.S. beef industry.|
|Organizing collaborative regional training or beginning farmers in the foothills||Information on beginning farmer training programs was shared and new communication networks were developed to continue future collaborations. Two NIFA grant proposals were submitted as a result of the workshop.|
|Sustainable Agriculture: increase understanding of policies/regulations and improve leadership capacity||The workshop strengthened the team of people in the region who support the agricultural community and especially direct marketing efforts.|
|Collaborative regional training and coordination of mobile irrigation labs on the Central Coast||The workshop improved coordination and consistency of collection methods, analysis and report delivery for mobile irrigation laboratories in a seven-county region of the Central Coast.|
|Sharing strategies for agritourism support, a statewide perspective.||Participants stressed appreciation for the examples set by Apple Hill Growers’ Association and North Carolina’s Networking Association, as well as a strong desire for an easier, cheaper permitting process, uniformity of regulations, increased public and internal education, and better collaboration with government agencies and related organizations. Most participants agreed that a California statewide agritourism association would be helpful in meeting these goals and better supporting agritourism operators.|
|Sustainable landscape train the trainer workshops||
96%of attendees indicated that the workshop they attended “met or exceeded their expectations.”
96%of attendees indicated that they would “change at least one garden practice very significantly based on information presented at the workshop.”
92%of attendees indicated that they would “decrease water waste based on adopting best practices presented at the workshop.”
88%of attendees indicated that they would “begin composting or adopt best practices related to green waste recycling that were presented at the workshop.”
The size and scope of the projects funded by the mini-grant process was successful; well beyond expectations. The projects were able to reach very diverse sets of people involved in extending sustainable agriculture information to producers in many unique segments of California’s agriculture industry.
Involvement of others in state PDP planning and implementation
The Western SARE PDP advisory committee for California currently has three members while three additional members are being sought. The current committee consists of:
- Diane Holcomb, State Resource Conservationist, NRCS State Office
- Holly George, UCCE Livestock & Natural Resources Advisor, Plumas-Sierra Counties
- Ramiro Lobo, UCCE Small Farms Advisor, San Diego County
The role of the committee is to provide input and direction to the annual PDP plan and to participate in the selection criteria and review of mini-grant proposals.