State SARE Coordinator:
Summary of 2015 State PDP Activities and Results:
Professional development training in Utah for 2015 saw six events (workshops, conferences, presentations) along with three mini-grants, co-sponsored by the Utah IPM Center. Overall 96 professionals were trained in a variety of sustainable agricultural concepts and subject matter areas. An estimate of the outreach for next year, 2016, is that over 6,000 new people will be exposed to some aspect of their Western SARE PDP state trainings experiences. This training program continues to be well received by the state and federal partners in Utah. Producers and other interested parties are also benefiting from attending these events. The positive impacts of having a well trained/educated professional agricultural workforce continue to move everyone in the state forward on the journey of sustainability.
Context and Overview:
Utah State University and the Western SARE Professional Development Program continue to provide excellent opportunities for in-service training in sustainable agriculture to extension educators and other agricultural/natural resource professionals. We continue to maintain partnerships with many non-extension agricultural professionals: NRCS, Conservation Districts, Utah Department of Agriculture and Food and other state and federal agricultural/natural resource professionals (Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management). By educating/training all these agricultural professionals it is hoped that they will utilize their new skills, knowledge and awareness within their agencies programs to better assist in reaching agricultural producers and producers as well in our ongoing quest to become more sustainability.
Activities and Methods:
- Preparing for Wildfires: Moving from crisis to opportunity
- Urban and Small Farms Conference
- Livestock Workshop and Tour
- Poster Presentation at National Soil and Water Conservation Society Meeting
- Food Hub Business Model workshop
- Utah FFA Advisor sustainable soil training
- IPM/Sustainable Agriculture Mini-grants – co-funded by USU IPM Center
- Raised Bed Demonstration and Sustainable Agriculture Instruction at Wheeler Farm
- Proposal for short video on climate change, invasive plants, and fire in the Great Basin
- Comparing Different Methods of Controlling Townsend’s Ground Squirrels in Irrigated Crop Ground
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products:
Utah Integrated Pest Management Webpage
Changes in Ag Professionals’ new Knowledge, Intention and Action:
The survey instrument used is designed to assist in measuring short- and medium-range impacts of our yearly professional development program efforts. See Evaluation Table Below.
(1) Acquisition of new knowledge, skills and awareness:
Questions 1 through 3 of the survey give numerical percentages of participating professionals in self-assessing if there were changes in their knowledge (Q2: 100%), skills (Q3:96%) and awareness (Q1: 96%) as a result of their attending a PDP event.
(2) Trainees’ intention of using what they learned in future educational programs and products:
Questions 6 through 9 explore the future intentions of those trained in this year’s PDP programs. 46%, of this year’s participants were planning on participating in an education event utilizing some aspect of this year’s training. Another 54% are planning on making available many of the resources from this year’s training to agricultural producers. A limited number (22%) were looking forward to development of a train the trainer program from their own training experience. In addition it is estimated from this year’s trainees that 6,190 contacts will be made utilizing one or many aspects of their training in the coming year.
(3) When possible, changes in action on the part of trainees (i.e., existing program content changed, new programs conducted, new products developed):
No data was collected during the past years’ worth of training to give a definitive narrative on this important subject. In the future, when standard assessment tools become available data will be collected to assist in answering this important question.
|2015 Professional Development Program Survey Data|
|Q1||Improve my awareness of the topics covered||100|
|Q2||Gave me new knowledge||96|
|Q3||Assisted me in gaining new skills||96|
|Q4||Modified my opinions and/or attitudes||90|
|Q5||Will improve advise I give to others||90|
|In the next year I am likely to use some aspect of this activity||%|
|Q6||In an educational program that I plan/participate in||46|
|Q7||As a resource I will make available to producers||54|
|Q8||As a professional development tool for my peers||22|
|Q9||How many people do you estimate sharing some aspect of this training within the next year?|
|Number of PDP events/programs||9|
|Total # of all participants in PDP in these events/programs||488|
|Number of professional participant surveys returned||96|
Many of the professionals at these events are in the later stages of their career. However, there are a few newer professionals joining us each year. It has been pointed out to us by Extension and NRCS that they expect a workforce turnover of at least 50% in the next five years. There will be many new professionals to invite to trainings and workshops in years to come. Producers continue to come to these events, and from feedback we have received, they are please with both being able to attend and the subject matter being presented.
Involvement of Others in State PDP Planning and Implementation:
Utah’s Professional Development Program Advisory Committee:
USDA-ARS-Forage & Range Research Laboratory
Utah Association of Conservation Districts
USU Cooperative Extension Service
Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food
The members of the State PDP Advisory Committee are contacted several times a year, but not collectively at one meeting. The transportation and travel costs have been minimized by meeting when these groups have scheduled events, or by my visiting them in conjunction with my extension, experiment station or Western SARE duties. For the year 2015 these advisory members continued to request trainings or professional development opportunities with the sustainable agriculture mini-grant program and to have funds available for special requests (such as to attend conferences, workshops and other agency sponsored events/trainings). Soil Health and Quality is to be addressed next year in several venues.