State SARE Coordinator:
Summary of 2014 PDP Activities and Results:
In 2014 Utah’s sustainable agriculture professional development program encompassed many educational events which included: sustainable agricultural conference and workshop support, travel scholarships, book placements, and more. A total of 691 agricultural professional participated and received training in some aspect of sustainable agriculture. An estimate of the contacts of these participants in the next year (2015) is 10,776.
Context and Overview:
Utah State University and the Western SARE Professional Development Program provide excellent opportunities for in-service training in sustainable agricultural topics to extension educators and other agricultural/natural resource professionals. In order to provide “research-based” information to the general public our agricultural professionals must have the opportunity to be exposed to the newest techniques and information available on a wide variety of sustainable subject areas. Over the years we have formed and maintained 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). These partnerships allow numerous agricultural professionals to enhance their learning and skill set interacting with sustainable agricultural systems. 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 so we can all continue to move forward in our journey towards sustainability.
Activities and Methods:
1. Specific Sustainable Agricultural Training
- Best Management Practices – USU Extension Annual Conference
- Coordinated Resource Management Planning training
- Organic Fruit and Vegetable Workshop
- Urban and Small Farms Conference
- 35th Annual Arizona/Utah Range Livestock Workshop & Tour
- Dryland Soil Health and Cover Crop Field days
- Presentations of Professional development training results at conferences/workshops/In-service trainings
2. Competitive mini-grant program in conjunction with USU IPM Center
- ‘A Guide to Common Organic Gardening Questions: Step by Step Recommendations for Organic Vegetable and Fruit Gardening in Northern Utah.’ More copies of this Guide were bought and distributed to Extension and NRCE Field Office Staff along with the SARE Managing Cover Crops book.
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products:
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 (Q3:100%), and awareness (Q1: 100%) 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. Fifty-five percent of this year’s participants were planning on participating in an education event utilizing some aspect of this year’s training. Another 58% are planning on making available some of the resources from this year’s training to agricultural producers. A limited number (32%) 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 10,776 contacts will be made utilizing one or many aspects of their training in the coming year.
(3) Changes in action on the part of trainees:
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.
|2014 Professional Development Program Survey Data|
|Q1||Improve my awareness of the topics covered||100|
|Q2||Gave me new knowledge||100|
|Q3||Assisted me in gaining new skills||100|
|Q4||Modified my opinions and/or attitudes||96|
|Q5||Will improve advise I give to others||96|
|In the next year I am likely to use some aspect of this activity||%|
|Q6||In an educational program that I plan/participate in||55|
|Q7||As a resource I will make available to producers||58|
|Q8||As a professional development tool for my peers||32|
|Q9||How many people do you estimate sharing some aspect of this training within the next year?|
|Number of PDP events/programs||18|
|Total # of all participants in PDP in these events/programs||928|
|Number of participant surveys returned||691||74.50%|
We continue to see new young professionals at these PDP events. However no concerted effort is utilized to describe these types of outcomes. We will continue to strive to increase total number of completed surveys from participants to assist us in assessing the impacts of the program.
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
USDA-ARS- Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory
USU Cooperative Extension Service
USDA-ARS-Bee Research Laboratory
USU Agricultural Experiment Station
Utah Dept. of Agriculture and Food
The members of the 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 2014 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.