SARE Professional Development Program Annual Report for Wyoming
January 1-December 31, 2012
State SARE Coordinator:
University of Wyoming Extension
1000 E. University Ave.
Laramie WY 82071
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Note: Due to a transition in state coordinators, this is the most recent report.
Summary of 2012 PDP Activities and Results
The activities funded by PDP in 2012 are in the second of a three year plan based on the expressed desires of the two Wyoming Extension Initiative Teams in agriculture and natural resources; Sustainable Management of Range Resources and Profitable and Sustainable Agriculture Systems. The planned programs for 2012 were management of forages and lowering energy use.
Forage management was covered in a four-day workshop on Management Intensive Grazing and a segment of the annual educator range tour. Participants received hands-on experience in managing grazing intensity in small pastures. Forage available was estimated, area needed for the number of animals was determined, and on the following day the teams assessed how close their cattle were to their residual forage target.
Energy use, and particularly renewable energy, was the focus of a workshop based upon the new Exploring Energy Efficiency and Alternatives (E3A) curriculum conducted jointly with Montana (Western SARE-PDP project).
Context and Overview
Wyoming is a small population state, and relative to other states has a relatively small agriculture sector dominated by livestock production. The majority of farming is irrigated hay production for on-farm animal feed. The agriculture sector clientele has generally been in business for many years, surviving droughts and periodic low prices and would argue that their operations are “sustainable.” “New thinking” is a tough sell. The professionals that serve Wyoming agriculturalists come from a variety of backgrounds and regions to serve in the Wyoming Extension Service (CES), Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Conservation Districts (CD’S) predominantly. Energy development and sage grouse management has been a recent topic of concern in much of the state. Wyoming CES and SARE-PDP adopted better targeting of educational topics and methods to reach professional CES educators, NRCS and CD advisors, and subsequently the producers. Particularly with the recent drought more efficient use of forage resources has gained traction. The Western SARE-PDP in Wyoming resides in the Ecosystem Science and Management Dept. within the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The PDP coordinator is a veteran faculty member with largely Extension assignment. Formal PDP activities are directed to Extension, NRCS and Conservation Districts personnel.
Activities and Methods
Western SARE-PDP Training Events 2012
The Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Professional Development Program (Western SARE-PDP) provides funding annually for training in various topics selected from Wyoming CES initiative teams and NRCS input. These funds are specifically designated by USDA for Extension, NRCS and other professionals, including Conservation District personnel and agriculture advisors. We also invite agency land managers and landowners. We were in a three-year series consisting of two training events annually. In this the second year, topics were planted forages management and lowering energy consumption.
A four-day Management Intensive Grazing (MIG) program was held in early June. Training centered around determining how much forage to allocate to a cow herd for a planned grazing period and assessing how close to targeted residual forage objectives the class member teams were able to achieve. The majority of attendees were producers and NRCS. Extension educators provided team leadership. For the ag professionals, it provided training in how to conduct the program, the actual estimation of forage available and residual for the allocation of forage to the number of animals their team was responsible for, as well as the team leadership aspect. Extension educator participants indicated they intended to use the information in their programming.
Subsequent to this program, a portion of the educators range tour in late summer was devoted to in the field discussion of the practices and benefits of MIG. Depending on the ecological system and management intensity, harvest efficiencies can rise from 30% to over 80%.
University of Wyoming Extension conducted a March 28-29, 2012 (Casper, WY) training of extension field educators concerning energy efficiency and renewable energy based upon the new Exploring Energy Efficiency and Alternatives (E3A) curriculum. The E3A curriculum was jointly developed by UW and Montana State University under a Western SARE Professional Development Program grant. This was a train-the-trainer event, enabling the educators to coordinate regional events. Subsequently, field educator-led energy programming has been offered at locations around the state, including Riverton, Fort Washakie, Sundance, Newcastle, Riverton, Afton, Douglas, Torrington and Rawlins, demonstrating that the training was found immediately useful. Wyoming PDP funds were used to pay travel/per diem for ten educators.
PDP-funded Publications/Educational Materials and Products
This publication briefly touches on the variety of resource, animal, infrastructure and management factors to consider in selecting a grazing management approach and concludes with the advantages/disadvantages of alternative approaches: http://www.uwyo.edu/cessupport/agpubs/Search_Start.asp, Search for MP-111.14, Grazing Management for Sustainable Ranching
Changes in Ag Professionals’ Knowledge, Skills and Action
The focus of our PDP programs is to encourage participants to use the information in programming and addressing the needs of clients for information on the topic. Recently I asked the participants in the last year's activities whether they had occasion to utilize the information received in training. Yes---3 no---1.
Subsequent to this year’s training, field educator-led energy programming has been offered at locations around the state, including Riverton, Fort Washakie, Sundance, Newcastle, Riverton, Afton, Douglas, Torrington and Rawlins, demonstrating that the training was found immediately useful.
The three-year ahead planning did not function as well as expected, primarily because Extension Educator’s priorities apparently changed along with the availability of a number of other professional training activities. NRCS apparently had budget problems for travel. These factors resulted in low attendance in the target audience at some events. Subsequently we are moving to a different model, at least for the short term.
Involvement of Others in State PDP Planning and Implementation
The PDP program development is a collaborative enterprise with the participation of NRCS state office staff and the Wyoming CES initiative teams concerned with agriculture and natural resources. Programming, including professional development, in Wyoming Extension is developed by the Extension educator professionals. These are the Sustainable Management of Rangeland Resources and the Profitable and Sustainable Agriculture Initiative teams. These teams hold semiannual meetings where programming desires including PDP are discussed and planned. NRCS is a participant in these meetings and also provides additional input at proposal development time. Needs assessment for programming by the initiative teams is developed through consultation with area producer advisory committees, thus providing the producer feedback to PDP.