SARE Professional Development Program Annual Report for Idaho
January 1 - December 31, 2013
State SARE co-Coordinators:
Summary of 2013 PDP Activities and Results
In 2013, Idaho’s sustainable agriculture professional development focus was on enhancing extension educators’ capacity for programming in sustainable agriculture. We did this by helping to sponsor seven diverse educational events whose total attendance included over 180 producers and 69 agricultural professionals. Producers and other agricultural professionals gained new knowledge on sustainable livestock production, pasture management and multi-species grazing, as well as sustainable vegetable and fruit production. Some attendees learned about SARE, its programs and grant opportunities, and others learned about Extension’s role in community food system work and assisting small acreage farmers with new markets. Offering a diverse mixture of programming to an ever broadening audience is helping to address the challenges of sustaining Idaho agriculture.
Context and Overview
Sustainable agriculture in Idaho is a collaborative and multidisciplinary effort. College of Agricultural and Life Sciences faculty in research and extension are collaborating with other faculty, producers, non-profit organizations and agricultural and environmental agencies to provide new research and educational programming for Idaho’s producers. The focus of our work in sustainable agriculture is to help Idaho producers improve agricultural productivity and economic return while preserving their natural resources. Some of our current areas of focus for Idaho are conserving soil and water resources; small acreage farming; IPM; direct marketing and food systems; and sustainable grazing systems.
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. In 2011, we began a state mini-grants program for extension educators to support their research, demonstration and programming efforts related to sustainable agriculture. The goals are: 1) to enhance the understanding and applications of sustainability in agriculture and 2) to build professional expertise and capacity to address the concerns of farmers and others.
Activities and Methods
Our original plans for funding three mini-grants in 2013 did not pan out as expected. One program had poor attendance and no evaluation data and another proposal team requested an extension of time to the following year due to reduced faculty capacity. However, we were able to fund one, as well as several other excellent programs that provided new knowledge to extension educators and agency people.
Extension faculty and staff collaborated with a non-profit farming organization to host two sustainable production courses based on Cultivating Success curricula in February of 2013. Western SARE funds helped fund the farmers’ travel and honorariums.
Sustainable Livestock Production Short Course
This day-long short course featuring experienced sustainable producers who shared their knowledge on pasture management, animal husbandry, animal behavior and welfare, processing and marketing was attended by 30 people, including five university, non-profit or agency agricultural professionals.
Sustainable Vegetable Production Short Course
A day long workshop on building soils, use of cover crops, pest management and appropriate equipment for sustainable vegetable production was attended by 44 farmers and master gardeners, plus six university or agency agricultural professionals.
Talk on Western SARE Producer Grants to Idaho Women in Agriculture
Idaho held its first Women in Agriculture conference in March 2013 in Twin Falls, with over 70 women farmers, university and agricultural agency professionals attending. Idaho SARE Coordinator, Cinda Williams, spoke on Western SARE Producer grants as part of the session on loans and grants for farmers. Information provided included an overview of SARE, what they do and how they affect change in agriculture. Particular focus was on the Producer grants and the Professional plus Producers grants. Western SARE funds helped to support Williams’ travel to the event.
In Service Training on Community Food Systems and Marketing
As part of our Extension Annual conference, we had an opportunity to bring in a speaker (Julie Fox) from Ohio State University to discuss food system work, helping farmers scaling up for selling to new markets, Market Maker, social media for farm marketing, etc. In addition to Fox, three Idaho extension educators and their community partners presented their progress on food hubs, direct marketing and food coalition projects. Western SARE sponsored this workshop attended by over twenty UI extension faculty, the Office of Community Partnership and economic development professionals.
Co-sponsoring Joel Salatin workshop
In June 2013 we co-sponsored a small portion of the cost to bring Joel Salatin to Moscow, Idaho as part of a week-long permaculture course. Joel’s day long workshop was attended by over 50 regional farmers, ranchers and agricultural professionals. Joel discussed everything from healthy soil, pasture management, multi-species rotational grazing, to marketing and making a profit on your farm. Over 150 Western SARE bulletins were distributed to participants. That evening, another presentation by Salatin was open to the public and attended by over 200 people.
Two farm tours
A tour of Pokey Creek Farm with production sites near Santa and St. Maries, Idaho included 15 farmers, extension and UI students. Greg and Leah Sempel received a Western SARE Producer grant to evaluate the cultivation of elderberries on their mountain farm. Attendees learned challenges and opportunities for the production, value-added processing and marketing of an elderberry crop. The second tour was to Colter’s Creek Vineyard in Juliaetta, Idaho where over 20 people, including three Extension educators, toured the operation, learned about their solar water pump irrigation system and discussed sustainable grape production in Idaho.
SARE publications sent to Extension Educators
The Idaho SARE PDP Coordinator continued efforts to distribute information about sustainable agriculture, SARE, and SARE grant opportunities. A packet of 10 SARE books and publications was sent to eight Extension faculty who were new to their positions in the last three years. Information about grant opportunities was detailed and assistance was offered. Over 250 of the free SARE publications were distributed to extension educators and farmers at meetings, workshops and farm tours in 2013.
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products
No publications/products submitted this year
Changes in Ag Professionals’ Knowledge, Skills and Action
We continue to see more involvement of our Extension Educators in sustainable agriculture activities. In 2013, over seventeen of our Idaho Extension Educators were involved in at least one of the Western SARE funded activities. Participation in the educational outreach involved at least fifteen agricultural professionals such as NRCS, Idaho Department of Ag, Soil and Water Conservation, Farm Service Agency and non-profit agricultural educators. The most diverse attendance of agricultural professionals was at the Idaho Women in Agriculture conference.
Workshop evaluations indicated
Not all events were evaluated using the SARE evaluation tool. The nine educators who completed end of the year Western SARE Outreach Surveys indicated improved awareness and new knowledge, 89% indicated new skills, and 77% said their attitudes were modified due to participation in the event. All of the educators indicated that participation improved their advice/council to producers. Over 75% used the information in an educational program held in 2013 and 89% will use the new information in a program in the coming year.
Program evaluations from the two sustainable livestock and sustainable vegetable production workshops indicated over 95% increased their knowledge about sustainable agricultural production practices. The agricultural professionals (Extension, non-profits, NRCS) also gained new knowledge and information/resources that they could use in future educational programming efforts.
Additional changes in knowledge, skills and action
This past year showed continued involvement of Idaho extension educators in SARE grants as a team of eight county Extension Educators and our UI Extension Horticulture Specialist submitted and received funding for research on “Extension of Local Food Production in Idaho Using High Tunnel Technology.”
Our Extension Annual Conference in-service training on food systems and marketing was attended by fifteen county extension educators in 2013. There is new interest in the connection of local food systems, economic development and health and nutrition. It is an opportunity for new linkages between our agriculture and horticulture focused faculty with our health and nutrition educators.
Our regional food systems groups in both northern and southern Idaho continue to be active in creating more partnerships for enhancing our regional food system. We have strong partnerships with Idaho Department of Agriculture, Small Business Development Centers and county and regional Economic Development Associations. The university’s Office of Community Partnerships has identified sustainable food systems as a priority and works with county extension educators to garner funds, develop partnerships and enhance student engagement in community level projects.
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 was broadened in 2013 to include four Extension Educators, two specialists, two producers, one NRCS employee and a non-profit member. They provided new insight and direction for the next two years of programming. One of the most significant changes for 2013 is bringing in Lauren Hunter, Blaine County Extension Educator, to be a co-coordinator for Idaho SARE. Lauren attended the summer PDP workshop and meeting in California and soon after was approved by Idaho Extension administration as a state co-coordinator with Cinda Williams. Lauren has already volunteered to be on the proposal review committee and is committed to Western SARE’s mission.