Summary of 2014 PDP Activities and Results for Wyoming:
The 2014 reporting year represented a transition period for the Western SARE-PDP program in Wyoming. Upon Dr. Mike Smith’s retirement in May 2014, Kelly Crane assumed the Western SARE-PDP Coordinator responsibilities for Wyoming. This change in program coordination assignment provided an opportunity to re-examine PDP program objectives, engagement, and implementation strategies. In 2014, we did continue to provide travel scholarships for agricultural professionals to participate in SARE-related professional development activities. These scholarships are awarded for professional development activities which are likely to advance technical capacity in sustainability topics and subsequently foster educational programming “on the ground” in Wyoming. Two Area Extension Educators received these scholarships in 2014. A retrospective assessment from these educators regarding the knowledge gained and potential educational outputs and outcomes of these activities was conducted.
Context and Overview:
The University of Wyoming (UW) and UW Extension are uniquely capable of advancing the objectives of the Western SARE-PDP program and the associated development, delivery, and evaluation of research-based educational programs to agricultural professionals throughout Wyoming. UW Extension has agriculture/natural resource educators in every county in Wyoming and on the Wind River Indian Reservation. These academic professionals have a minimum of a Master’s degree and are hired with the expectation that they develop an applied research program to support the relevancy, technical accuracy, and objectivity of their educational programs. Accordingly, UW Extension, the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station (WAES), and the four UW Research and Extension Centers are increasingly collaborative in their effort to meet the educational and research needs of Wyoming agricultural producers and professionals. Leadership for each of these entities is under the direction of the Dean of UW’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
In Wyoming, the Western SARE-PDP program provides educational opportunities which enhance the awareness, technical knowledge, and educational capacity of agricultural professionals. These educational objectives support our overall goal of fostering a cohort of agricultural professionals (UW Extension, NRCS, and Conservation Districts) who can effectively address the contemporary needs of agricultural producers, natural resource managers, and landowners in Wyoming. Travel scholarships undoubtedly advance our objectives for the PDP program. However, our recent needs assessment effort indicates potential opportunities to enhance program impacts through workshops and publications. Accordingly, we have expanded our effort in this area in the current year.
Activities and Methods:
Professional Development for Agricultural Professionals (travel scholarships)
Targeted livestock grazing symposium (SRM), two agricultural professional participants.
Future educational outputs (as identified by participants): Workshops for agricultural producers on using livestock grazing to advance natural resource management objectives.
Symposium on contemporary development and implementation of ecological site descriptions (NRCS/SRM), one agricultural professional participant.
Future educational outputs (as identified by participants): Publications and educational programs for agricultural professionals and producers on ESDs.
Natural resources educational program development for K- 12 audiences (SRM), two agricultural professional participants.
Future educational outputs (as identified by participants): Development of a curriculum and associated youth natural resources adventure camp in Wyoming. This educational event will explicitly address the objectives of sustainable agriculture and natural resource management.
Ranch Sustainability, Economics, and Profitability (SRM).
Future educational outputs (as identified by participants): Workshops and digital media outputs for agricultural producers which integrate ranch system economics, natural resource management objectives and sustainability. Information gained from this event will also culminate in the development of a comprehensive educational program for Beginning Farmers/Ranchers in Wyoming’s Big Horn Basin.
Sustainable Management and Business Enterprise Strategies for Sheep Producers (ASI), three agricultural professional participants.
Future educational outputs (as identified by participants): Workshops, digital media outputs, and ranch planning tools for woolgrowers on sustainable grazing practices, awareness of lamb and wool markets, predator protection strategies and marketing techniques.
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products:
None in 2014.
Changes in Ag Professionals’ new Knowledge, Intention, and Action:
In this program year, we employed a post-hoc survey of agricultural professionals who participated in Western SARE-PDP professional development events to assess the following three educational outcomes:
(1) Acquisition of new knowledge, skills, and awareness:
Survey results indicate that educational professionals gained new knowledge, technical skills, teaching capacity, and educational program development strategies in the following topic areas:
- Ranch systems economics and implications for ranch planning.
- Contemporary advances in the science and management of rangelands for agricultural production and natural resource objectives.
- Educational program delivery strategies to specifically address farmers and ranchers.
- Connecting land health, profitability, business enterprise planning, and family dynamics into sustainable management strategies.
- The conceptual framework, science, and philosophy of using livestock grazing to specifically advance natural resource management objectives (targeted livestock grazing).
- How to incorporate targeted livestock grazing into management strategies and educational programs for agricultural professionals and producers.
- The contemporary science, application, and development of ecological site descriptions and how to incorporate this tool into effective assessment, management, and planning for rangelands.
- Developing natural resource educational programs, curricula, content, and delivery strategies for youth audiences.
- Lamb and wool marketing strategies.
- Sustainable grazing management techniques for rangeland sheep enterprises.
- Predator protection strategies for sheep producers.
- Alternative management, marketing and investment strategies for sheep producers.
(2) Trainees’ intention of using what they learned in future educational programs and products:
Survey results indicate that educational professionals who participated in our Western SARE-PDP program have advanced their technical insight and teaching capacity. These outcomes will support their effort to develop and deliver the following educational programs in Wyoming and the region:
- A comprehensive program for beginning farmers and ranchers in the Big Horn Basin. This program will focus on new agricultural business enterprises and the associated marketing, management, economic analyses and planning.
- A series of educational programs are planned in western Wyoming to introduce ranchers and agricultural/natural resource professionals to recent advances in ecological site descriptions, associated spatial data, and the utility of these tools to make management decisions.
- UW Extension, in cooperation with NRCS and Conservation Districts, plans to host a Natural Resource Adventure Camp for youth. The explicit objectives of this event include enhancing the awareness and technical knowledge of youth in the areas of natural resource management, sustainable agriculture, and careers in natural science fields.
- Refinement and delivery of new content in our successful Master Woolgrowers programs, which will be delivered in a series of workshops at several locations throughout Wyoming.
(3) Changes in action on the part of trainees:
Our post-hoc survey and supervisor’s assessments both indicate that participants in Western SARE-PDP educational events have enhanced their confidence, objectivity, and accuracy in addressing questions from stakeholders regarding the topics previously addressed. We expect continued positive impacts in this area. In this program year, UW Extension Educators (3) were invited to present our Master Woolgrowers educational program at the annual meeting of the American Sheep Industry Council. This educational output was funded by Western SARE-PDP and impacted over 100 sheep producers from across the nation. We have also observed that new programming focus areas and expansion in educational programming breadth has resulted from UW Extension agricultural professionals who participated in Western SARE-PDP programs.
As a new Western SARE-PDP coordinator this attribute is difficult to address. However, UW Extension is regarded, by many, as a national leader in terms of the technical expertise and specialization of our field-based educators. The resources provided by our Western SARE-PDP has undoubtedly contributed to this capacity and associated positive impacts to our stakeholders.
Involvement of Others in State PDP Planning and Implementation:
In Wyoming, the Western SARE-PDP advisory committee is comprised of two UW Extension initiative teams: 1) Agriculture and Horticulture, and 2) Sustainable Management of Rangeland Resources. Each of these teams consists of Area Educators, Specialists, and Administrators. These teams have also solicited the participation of NRCS and occasionally include stakeholders and other community partners. These individuals are all engaged in statewide needs assessment processes related to their respective programming focus. Initiative teams meet a minimum of three times per year and the Western SARE-PDP program will be addressed at two of these meetings.