SARE Professional Development Program Annual Report for Idaho
January 1 - December 31, 2014
State SARE co-Coordinators:
Summary of 2014 State/Protectorate PDP Activities and Results:
In 2014, Idaho’s SARE PDP program focused on the following:
- Mini-grants to enhance Extension Educators’ capacity for programming in sustainable agriculture.
- Travel mini-grants, providing Extension Educators travel funds for professional development in sustainable agriculture related fields.
- Sponsorship of an intensive short-course on Beneficial Insects and Pollinators on the Farm.
- Sponsorship of a large Climate and Water Conservation Seminar hosted by a SARE PDP Coordinator.
In FY2014, we sponsored two large educational events with total attendance of 182 agriculture producers and professionals. We sponsored one travel scholarship for an Extension Educator. As planned, we partnered with NCAP and NRCS to offer a Pollinator and Beneficial Insect short-course in Caldwell. The other workshop hosted by the SARE PDP State Coordinator was titled Climate and Water Conservation Seminar. As a result of Idaho SARE PDP sponsored events, producers and agricultural professionals gained new knowledge on beneficial insects, pollinator habitats, NRCS resources for growers, water conservation techniques, and climate vulnerability as it relates to future farming practices. Some attendees learned about SARE and its programs and grant opportunities, and others learned about Extension’s role in disseminating sustainable agriculture information.
Context and Overview:
The Idaho professional development program is housed in the University of Idaho Extension, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences Department. The Idaho SARE professional development program provides new research and educational programming for Idaho’s producers. The SARE professional development program collaborates and engages UI faculty members, agriculture producers, non-profit organizations, and agricultural and environmental agencies. The focus of our work in sustainable agriculture is to help Idaho producers improve agricultural productivity and economic return while preserving their natural resources.
The SARE professional development funds target/train Extension Educators, NRCS professionals, community leaders, food system professionals, agriculture producers, and community members engaged in food systems. The Idaho SARE professional development program currently focuses on the following: conserving soil and water resources, small acreage farming, IPM, direct food marketing, developing local food systems, sustainable grazing systems, and water management. Our focus in Idaho SARE PDP is to distribute information and provide financial support for our agricultural professionals to participate in a variety of educational opportunities related to sustainable agriculture. The Idaho SARE PDP also funds mini-grants for Extension Educators to support their research, demonstration, and programming efforts related to sustainable agriculture.
Activities and Methods:
The Idaho SARE PDP funded one mini-grant in 2014, a Climate and Water Conservation Seminar and one of the PDP coordinators co-hosted a Pollinators and Beneficial Insects Short-course.
Climate and Water Conservation Seminar
A scarce water supply outlook for south-central Idaho promotes community wide water conservation efforts. A SARE PDP Coordinator partnered with a local non-profit to sponsor the second annual Climate and Water Conservation Seminar. The seminar discussed predicted global climate change scenarios and the effects on water supply and farming practices. With highlights from a current OSU climate model study, participants learned predicted temperature increases by 2050, predicted snowfall accumulation and timing, and future spring run-off scenarios. The predicted climate models discussed how irrigation scheduling and practices will likely change as well as crop rotations, planting and harvesting dates, and possible changes in optimal, low-moisture crops for the area. The 124 seminar participants included agriculture professionals, agriculture and livestock producers, community leaders, and community professionals.
Pollinators and Beneficial Insects on the Farm
A regional non-profit, Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, partnered with Idaho SARE coordinator, Idaho Extension, and NRCS to conduct a workshop on the benefits and identification of pollinators and beneficial insects, as well as planting strategies to promote them on organic and specialty crop farms in southern Idaho. The team modified the Xerces Society’s short course to fit the needs of Idaho farmers. The project worked with a local organic farmer, Fred Brossy, to present a case study on his habitat plantings. The group worked closely with Fred to include all parts of the process for establishing habitat, including site selection, seed selection, site prep, planting, and maintenance. Karen Fullen, state biologist with Idaho NRCS, discussed the planning process with NRCS and funding opportunities for farmers.
The short course was followed by a next day farmer-to-farmer exchange. This provided an opportunity for even more growers to learn about the topic. During the session, growers discussed their challenges implementing habitat with organic methods. The farmer-to-farmer exchange session used the format of interactive conversations with people seated in a circle. This follow-up to the full day short course allowed growers to ask further questions and learn from the experience of others. A total of 62 agriculture producers and agriculture professionals attended the workshop.
The Idaho SARE PDP funded one travel scholarship in 2014. Iris Mayes, UI Extension Educator, attended Powering Rural Economies, focused on Art and Agriculture. The health of a community is linked to the health of the culture and the access to healthy foods. The workshop featured breakout sessions on Local Food, Local Art, and Local Leadership and Creativity. Iris enhanced her ability for Extension to provide support to local restaurants. Local foods provide more nutrition because they are fresher and the nutrients and vitamins are more intact than foods that are harvested far way and then shipped. Restaurants have the power to improve their community and local economy by sourcing local produce. In rural areas, agriculture, hunting, and food gathering are central to the local culture. Music, media, and fine arts reflect the local culture and bring people together for community connection and enhancement of social capital. Iris Mayes used the training to engage local community members on ways that local foods, art, and culture can enhance the community on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation as well as Latah County. As a result of this training, Iris also plans to host a “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” event to help share information about our local farmers with the community.
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products:
No publications/products submitted this year.
Changes in Ag Professionals’ Knowledge, Intention and Action:
Climate and Water Conservation Seminar
The SARE PDP Coordinator used a clicker survey to evaluate changes in knowledge and planned action. Eighty-five percent of participants of the Climate and Water Conservation Seminar indicated a better understanding of predicted climate change and water scenarios for the local area. All 124 participants indicated that the predicted climate and water scenarios represent a need for the community to prioritize and conserve water. Over 85% of participants indicated that they learned water conservation techniques that they plan to adopt for their farm, business, or residence.
Good Bugs Workshop
An evaluation of the short course was conducted. A total of 62 evaluations were returned. When asked about their knowledge level before and after the workshop, 52 of 62 participants who returned their evaluation showed an increase in knowledge level of the role of beneficial insects on the farm. Fifty-eight of 62 participants reported an increase in knowledge level of using a habitat assessment guide to evaluate habitat and possible enhancements.
Of the 17 who identified themselves as agriculture support staff (crop consultants, extension, Soil Water Conservation District, etc.), 14 indicated that they planned to use the habitat assessment guide when advising farmers. All 17 of the agriculture support staff indicated that they would change how they advise farmers about farm management practices in order to support pollinators and beneficial insects. The agriculture support staff indicated that they plan to make the following changes: 13 plan to consider pesticide impacts on pollinators in future pest control decisions; eight plan to adjust management (tillage, mowing, etc.) where possible to increase pollinator numbers; 14 plan to provide additional habitat resources for pollinators (wildflower plantings, nest boxes, etc.); and 10 plan to encourage enrollment in NRCS administered conservation programs for pollinators.
Of the 37 farmers who completed the backside of the evaluation form, 36 indicated that they would use the habitat assessment guide to assess the habitat on their farm. Thirty-seven also indicated that the short course changed what they intended to do on their farms to support pollinators and beneficial insects. The farmers indicated that they plan to make the following changes: 19 plan to consider pesticide impacts on pollinators in future pest control decisions; 24 plan to adjust management (tillage, mowing, etc.) where possible to increase pollinator numbers; 35 plan to provide additional habitat resources for pollinators (wildflower plantings, nest boxes, etc.); and 20 plan to enroll in NRCS administered conservation programs for pollinators.
Following the workshop, we met with 11 growers to conduct on-farm habitat assessments, using The Xerces Society’s Habitat Assessment Guide. At the short course, we asked growers who were interested in participating in the on-farm habitat assessments to complete the form. Twenty-six farmers responded that they were interested in participating. We narrowed this list down to 11 by selecting a diversity of different farms and those who were using organic methods. These 11 site visits represent long-term outcomes (beneficial insect management change) as a result of the Good Bugs Workshop.
Iris Mayes used a SARE evaluation to indicate short-term outcomes. She indicated improved knowledge and skills. She anticipated reaching over 150 people with the gained information. She indicated that she learned programming ideas from the training that she will implement in her Extension programming.
Iris Mayes went further to show medium-term outcomes from her participated training. As a result of the SARE travel mini-grant, Iris Mayes performed and indicated action for the following: 1) hosted a meeting with community members to brainstorm ways that local foods, art, and culture can enhance the community on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation as well as Latah County and 2) a planned “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” event to help share information about local farmers with the community.
For 2014, no unintended outcomes were reported.
Involvement of Others in State PDP Planning and Implementation:
We continue to involve more people in providing input on sustainable agricultural programming. Our advisory team for 2014 included four extension educators, two specialists,two producers, one NRCS employee, and a non-profit member. The advisory group met via phone in 2014. The advisory group provided sustainable agriculture topic ideas that should be a focus for Idaho. These included optimal pasture and grazing management practices, community food systems, Integrated Pest Management, and assisting small and organic farmers with sustainable management practices and business marketing.
Attachments Available Upon Request:
1) Climate and Water Conservation Seminar Clicker Survey Results
2) Iris Mayes SARE Evaluation
3) Good Bugs Evaluation
4) Statement of Expenditures 2013
5) Statement of Expenditures 2014