SARE Professional Development Program Annual Report for Nevada
January 1 - December 31, 2013
State Extension Leader for SARE:
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
1664 North Virginia Street
Mail Stop 0404
Reno NV 89557
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Summary of 2013 PDP Activities and Results
Western SARE PDP-supported activities in 2013-14 focused on building the capacity of UNCE faculty, USDA and NV Department of Agriculture professionals to address key educational needs of producers addressing sustainable agriculture needs/issues in Nevada. A key focus was to continue the development of a statewide outreach program on farm/ranch site pre- and post-harvest food safety. Additionally, UNCE faculty attended professional development trainings in Alaska and Florida relating to on farm/ranch food safety, water conservation through irrigation efficiencies, forage quality improvement, rangeland health and livestock/wildlife herd health, and tribal sustainable agricultural systems. UNCE faculty and agency professionals are using knowledge gained from attending conferences and trainings to ensure a safe, secure and affordable food supply in Nevada through teaching USDA professionals and producers how to grow food sustainably and safely, while also sustaining and/or increasing profitability.
Context and Overview
In 2013 (extended to February 28, 2014) the Nevada Western SARE PDP focused on providing travel scholarships for individual professionals to attend sustainability related training provided by other organizations, associations or groups. A significant portion of funds were used to import subject matter experts into Nevada in order for larger numbers of Extension faculty and other agricultural professionals to receive critical training on food safety at the pre-harvest and post-harvest points of production.
Major expectations are for participants to improve their knowledge of “sustainability principles” and use it in their programming with clientele. Extension faculty initiated stronger working relationships with the Nevada Department of Agriculture (NVDOA). In particular, Cooperative Extension is training NVDOA and related professionals on the topic of Good Agricultural Practices for farmers and ranchers. Ongoing collaborations continue with NRCS.
Activities and Methods
Western SARE PDP supported activities in 2013 were primarily focused on facilitating key faculty to participate in various professional development activities related to program needs in Nevada. A major focus of the Western SARE PDP program is to help Cooperative Extension faculty/staff, NRCS and other agency professionals improve their knowledge/understanding of SARE principles and/or to share this with other agricultural professionals (NRCS staff provide their own funding for training). This included supporting:
- Seth Urbanowitz (Extension Educator) attended the two-week Postharvest Technology Short Course in Davis, California June 2013. The course included classroom lectures the first week, and during the second week he toured large, commercial farms and packhouses. This course focused on postharvest care principles related to maturity, safety and biology of horticultural crops through lecture, laboratory and field trips. The course taught the relationship between food safety factors and produce quality. He learned how production systems and marketing channels can mitigate food safety and increase quality through pre- and post-harvest practices. Knowledge he obtained will be used to improve produce food safety training in Nevada and will be shared with producers and Extension colleagues, as well as Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and other government agencies. This course was essential in drafting a food safety curriculum for Nevada.
- Kathy Frazier (UNCE FRTEP Agent) attended the National Congress of American Indians Mid-Year Conference in Reno, NV in June 2013. The National Congress of American Indians was established in 1944 in response to the termination and assimilation policies the U.S. government forced upon tribal governments in contradiction of their treaty rights and status as sovereign nations. To this day, protecting these inherent and legal rights remains the primary focus of NCAI. There were approximately 300 attendees from across the U.S. Breakout sessions were varied and included Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Natural Resources, Database Management, Tribal Taxes, Emergency Management Overview under FEMA, Broadband Public Safety Network, Tribal Energy, Technology, Native Languages, Food Sovereignty, International Trade & Commerce, Education, Health, and Culture. Besides the general assemblies, a few of the breakout sessions Kathy attended were Database Management; Land, Transactions and the Distribution of Trust Funds; and the subcommittee meeting for Trust Lands, Natural Resources, and Agriculture.
- Brad Schultz (Extension Educator) attended the Western Rangelands Partnership WERA Committee (1008) which is collaborative program group of Extension Rangeland Specialists and agricultural librarians from western Land Grant Universities. For about ten years, this group has collaborated to develop both national and state level websites and associated products that identify and host important and accurate rangeland resources information that the public and agency resource management specialists can access and use to address complex and controversial issues. The overall goal of this project is to direct interested parties to peer-reviewed research-based information and away from emotional and/or agenda driven documents that have been developed by a wide variety of interest groups but lack the inclusion of peer-reviewed science. A parallel effort that evolved from the Western Rangelands Partnership is the Rangelands e-Xtension Community of Practice. Schultz collaborates with Extension faculty from Montana State University, University of Wyoming, University of Idaho and Utah State University to implement and manage this project. In July 2013, the western rangelands partnership annual meeting was held in Anchorage and Palmer, Alaska and focused upon updating and improving the regional and state websites of both levels of this project. At the meeting Schultz interacted with colleagues (Range Specialists or librarians) from Land Grant Universities in Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Arizona. Additional participants were from the University of Sonora, Mexico, and the President of the Australian Rangeland Society. For the Western Range Partnership (WERA 1008), Schultz learned how each participating state (n=17) is updating their website and the types of information they are housing or products they are developing. The national team, housed at the University of Arizona, provided updates about changes in their website, meta-data entry techniques and new approaches to information development and delivery for the intended audiences. For the e-Xtension effort changes in eXtension programming, new requirements to keep the site updated and appropriately validated were discussed, as were changes in organizational structure needed to improve site performance. The short-term focus is upon expanding/improving the Nevada Rangelands and Rangelands eXtension COP websites through collaboration with Amy Shannon, UMR Lifesciences Librarian. This includes incorporating new/existing information so it can become accessible by the general public, agency professionals and other Extension faculty, who are the ultimate end-users.
- Seth Urbanowitz (Extension Educator) attended the 2013 Soil Conservation Society Conference in Tampa, FL. This meeting provided the opportunity to learn about water use in agricultural landscapes and upcoming food safety concerns with soil contaminants. He also visited organic farms in central Florida that reinforced marketing principles, food safety and nutrient management.
- Steve Foster (Extension Educator) attended the 2013 (December) Nevada Alfalfa Symposium in Reno, NV to gain knowledge on the following topics: Forage Trends, World Issues and Market Trends, Pest Management and GMO Alfalfa Updates.
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products
Funds were used to purchase binders, print curriculum materials and purchase memory sticks in support of the new UNCE Food Safety Professional Development Training that a UNCE Extension Educator developed and taught to USDA and Nevada Department of Agriculture staff.
Funds were used to reprint 100 copies of People of the Land to support ongoing programming on the ten largest reservations in Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Idaho.
A small portion of funds were used toward updating computer support for PDP program support.
Changes in Ag Professionals’ Knowledge, Skills and Action
- Through his participation in the UC Davis Postharvest Technology Short Course, Urbanowitz increased his knowledge about postharvest care principles related to maturity, safety and biology of horticultural crops and the relationship between food safety factors and produce quality. He learned how production systems and marketing channels can mitigate food safety and increase quality through pre- and post-harvest practices. With the training Urbanowitz received, he developed and taught produce food safety training in Nevada, targeting small producers and Extension colleagues, as well as employees with Nevada and USDA Department of Health, Nevada Department of Agriculture and other government agencies. The training that he received from UC Davis was essential in drafting a food safety curriculum for Nevada.
- Nevada’s participation in National Congress of American Indians Mid-Year Conference represented UNCE and tribal stakeholders throughout the state. It allowed UNCE-FRTEP staff to participate with tribal leaders and organizations to outline outreach goals for the improvement of quality of life related to tribal agricultural production on reservation lands across the nation. Frazier worked with FRTEP Coordinator Randy Emm to provide information she gained from attending the conference to improve Extension outreach program quality for the 24 federal recognized tribes in Nevada. Frazier and Emm targeted new information through the food hub outreach effort on tribal lands in Nevada and incorporated the information in trainings and workshops.
- Schultz acquired knowledge and working contacts from his participation in the Western Rangelands Partnership WERA Committee (1008) meeting. He is seeking permission from Pro-Quest Dissertation Database to display the abstracts from all rangeland related research on the Nevada Rangelands website. If permission is granted, this research would be disseminated to a much broader audience than can currently access the material through the password protected UNR library. A subsequent development would be to identify the journal papers associated with each dissertation, display abstracts when possible and direct clientele to open access copies of articles, when available. Both interested members of the public and Extension faculty and staff across Nevada (and the West) will have relevant, research-based information available on the web at their fingertips, by topical area. The intent is to reduce the time they must spend finding credible materials. Finding and/or developing credible information is the focus of these two efforts. This project does not target specific groups or individuals in any discrete location. These aforementioned programs are designed to address identified issues related to grazing management, habitat management, watershed management, weed control and management, wilderness areas, wildfires and prescribed grazing, vegetation management, recreation and other topics. Individuals actively select the information that addresses their concerns. At a minimum they become aware of the topic. At some level, those who read the material and are actively involved in rangeland issues will modify their attitudes or behavior about the issues they are concerned with. Specifically who and how is impossible to determine because these efforts are not targeted toward any specific group of known individuals who will remain actively engaged for a prolonged period. This workshop included a series of tours to livestock and wildlife based enterprises and research sites. The Alaska Moose Research Program provided timely insight about the importance of seasonal nutrition for annual recruitment and herd health.
- From the knowledge he obtained through his participation in the 2013 Soil Conservation Society Conference, Urbanowitz will work with producers to improve irrigation efficiency in White Pine County and Nevada, as well as improve the quality of produce food safety training in Nevada. Information learned will be shared with producers and Extension colleagues, as well as Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and other government agencies. It is hoped that changes in management skills related to irrigation scheduling will be realized among Nevada fruit and vegetable producers. Urbanowitz will measure change at irrigation workshops in White Pine County following a year of data collection from soil moisture sensors and educational activities that have been conducted.
- Steve Foster is using the knowledge he gained from the 2013 Nevada Alfalfa Symposium to improve his outreach programs to help Nevada alfalfa producers increase their yield, quality and profitability through Extension-sponsored educational programs. He also developed collaborative partnerships with other extension/industry professionals in Nevada.
Involvement of Others in State PDP Planning and Implementation
Nevada does not have an identified SARE-PDP advisory committee. Given the urban nature of Nevada (86%), the vast open spaces, and that 87% of public lands with increasing pockets of small, diverse agricultural operations, soliciting stakeholder input is an ongoing process rather than the result of a selective advisory group. Cooperative Extension and state/federal agency personnel in Nevada are small in number. As a result, there exists a close working relationship among professionals at the county and state levels. In 2013, the SARE State Coordinator sought to increase joint or cooperative programming between UNCE and Nevada Department of Agriculture with a focus on pre- and post-harvest food safety. This was accomplished through the series of trainings Seth Urbanowitz developed and taught to professionals and producers across the state in 2013, based on the professional development he received using Western SARE PDP scholarship funds. Additionally, agency professionals include producers and agriculture organizations on their agency advisory or planning committees. Ongoing discussion with agricultural agencies, in addition to members of Cattleman’s Association, Nevada Grown, Nevada Small Farm Institute and Nevada Farm Bureau, occur throughout the year to identify emerging programming needs. The SARE State Coordinator also confers directly with Extension faculty and related outreach agency professionals at the state level.