Increasing Agroforestry Adoption and Networking in the Midwest through Targeted Professional Development

Final Report for ENC12-129

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2012: $74,842.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2014
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Michael Gold
MU Center for Agroforestry
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:

In conjunction with the Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group (http://midamericanagroforestry.net), UMCA organized its’ first Agroforestry Academy in Columbia, MO from August 5-9, 2013 and the second Agroforestry Academy was held in Winona, MN from July 21-25, 2014.

Prior to the start of the August 2013 Agroforestry Academy, the Center’s 2006 Agroforestry Training Manual was revised and updated. In addition, with direct funding support from a MO SARE mini-grant, the Center created a brand new Handbook for Agroforestry Planning and Design. Both of these documents are currently available for download in pdf format on the Center’s website.

Pre- and post-academy surveys were administered in both 2013 and 2014. In 2013, 27 trainee/educators attended and in 2014, 29 trainee/educators were in attendance.

The educators trained through the offering of the Agroforestry Academy in 2013 and 2014, are helping to establish the infrastructure needed to enhance landowner adoption of agroforestry, resulting in increased sustainability of rural communities and the food and agricultural system.  As a result of the Agroforestry Academy, fifty seven educators from seven states and Washinton, D.C. were trained in agroforestry principles and practices.  100% of Academy participants gained an improved understanding of the design and implementation of agroforestry practices including documented changes in awareness and knowledge.   As of early 2015, a number of Agroforestry Academy participants, both trainers and trainees, have began to offer subsequent training and education programs in agroforestry for farmers and landowners throughout the Midwest region.

All presentations in 2013 were recorded, and all PowerPoint presentations from 2013 and 2014 academies will be made available on the Center for Agroforestry website (http://www.centerforagroforestry.org/academy) to reach a wider audience and to be available for later use.

Project Objectives:

The main objectives for 2013 were to create/update background materials used in the 1st Academy (Training Manual and Handbook), host a summer 2013 Academy. The main objective for 2014 was to organize and host a 2nd agroforestry academy up in Minnesota.  All objectives were achieved.

The overall long-term goal of this NCR-SARE PDP grant is to help support efforts to increase on-the-ground adoption of agroforestry.

The objectives of the NCR-SARE PDP were:

1) To create a regional agroforestry knowledge network;

2) Train a core group of individuals who deal with land management issues and/or interact with farmers and landowners; and

3) Facilitate collaboration among researchers, extension personnel, and practitioners, diverse disciplines, departments and colleges, and different agencies and organizations.

Introduction:

This funded SARE PDP project entitled Increasing agroforestry adoption and networking in the Midwest through targeted professional development, was a joint effort among five Midwestern states.  A weeklong Agroforestry Academy was created targeting the professional development of natural resource professionals, extension agents, and other educators, to advance adoption of agroforestry as a cornerstone of productive land use in the Midwest. Agroforestry offers a novel approach to land management that provides opportunities to combine productivity and profitability with environmental stewardship, resulting in healthy and sustainable agricultural systems that can be passed on to future generations.  In spite of significant advances in both the science and practice of agroforestry over the past 20 years, adoption has been limited. Natural resource professionals and other educators are currently not equipped to help landowners adopt agroforestry. Advanced training on the five agroforestry practices was provided and included options for bioenergy, marketing, economic, social dimensions, and environmental services benefits, and coupled with practice in agroforestry design, will facilitate knowledge transfer. 

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Mihaela Cernusca
  • Dr. Larry Godsey
  • Michael Gold
  • Dr. Shibu Jose
  • Dr. Andy Mason
  • Jeri Neal
  • Dr. Richard Schultz
  • Richard Straight
  • Dr. Dusty Walter
  • Richard Warner
  • Bruce Wight
  • Dr. Diomy Zamora

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

The 2nd Agroforestry “Train-the Trainer” Academy, July 21-25, 2015, attracted 29 trainee/educators from 7 states and Washington, DC. Based on trainee/educator evaluation feedback from year 1, the format in year 2 was slightly different than in year 1 with a stronger daily mix of classroom workshop and agroforestry practitioner field tours, as follows:

Day one, two, and three (active discussion throughout)

  • Morning classroom presentations by agroforestry experts.
  • Day one also included field visits to an agroforestry practitioners’ farm and a site visit to the “hands-on landowner case study” farm as part of a group project exercise. The field visit to the case-study farm initiated the academy focus on agroforestry planning and design.
  • Days two and three contained more afternoon site visits to different agroforestry practitioners in SE Minnesota.

Day Four (active discussion throughout)

  • Field visits to agroforestry practitioners’ farms in SW Wisconsin.
  • Trainees (in groups) design agroforestry plans for hands-on landowner case study visited that morning.

Day Five

  • Trainees worked in small groups to design agroforestry scenarios for hands-on case study with mentors. Subsequently, each group presented their agroforestry designs to the landowners involved in the “case-study” and to entire group for discussion and feedback.
  • Day five continued with a discussion on next steps - commitment for spin-off trainings, a discussion on advanced educational opportunities via an online MS and/or graduate certificate in agroforestry at MU. Day five concluded with the awarding of “Certificates of Graduation” to all trainee/educators and a post-academy evaluation survey.

Outreach and Publications

  1. Proceedings article

Gold, M.A., M.M. Cernusca and S. Jose.  2013.  Creating the knowledge infrastructure to enhance landowner adoption of agroforestry through an agroforestry academy.  In:  Laura Poppy, L, J. Kort, B. Schroeder, T. Pollock and R. Soolanayakanahally, eds.  Agroforestry – Innovations in Agriculture.  Proceedings, 13th North American Agroforestry Conference.  Charlottetown, PEI, Canada.  p. 92-96.

Training Manual for Applied Agroforestry Practices – 2013 Edition

Gold, M.A., M.M. Cernusca and M.M. Hall (eds). 2013.  Training Manual for Applied Agroforestry Practices – 2013 Edition.  MU Center for Agroforestry.  245 p.

Handbook for Agroforestry Planning and Design

Gold, M.A., M.M. Cernusca and M.M. Hall (eds). 2013.  Handbook for Agroforestry Planning and Design.  MU Center for Agroforestry.  80 p.

Both the Training Manual and Handbook are available online on the Center for Agroforestry website at:  http://www.centerforagroforestry.org/pubs/training/index.php

In addition to the Academy, oral presentations about the need to stimulate increased adoption of agroforestry through the training of natural resource professions via an Agroforestry Academy were given (and will be given) at four different venues in 2013. These included:

 1) The 13th North American Agroforestry Conference (NAAC), Prince Edward Island, Canada (June 19-21, 2013);

2) The Society of American Foresters national convention, Charleston, SC, October 25, 2013;

3) The Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Turrialba, Costa Rica, November 6-7, 2013; and

4) The Green Lands Blue Waters annual meeting in Minneapolis, MN, November 20-21, 2013.  

As part of the 13th NAAC in 2013, an article on the AF Academy entitled “Creating the knowledge infrastructure to enhance landowner adoption of agroforestry through an agroforestry academy” was published in the NAAC proceedings.

In June of 2015, during the upcoming 14th NAAC, a conference presentation will describe the Agroforestry Academy and the accomplishments and achievements which took place during the first two academies in 2013 and 2014 (while recruiting additional trainee/educators for the upcoming 2015 Academy).

In November of 2015, during the Society of American Foresters national convention, an additional presentation will be made describing the Agroforestry Academy and, as above, the accomplishments and achievements with a particular focus on the USDA Agroforestry Strategic Framework emphasis on educating natural resource professionals.

Information from the 2013 and 2014 academies will be made available on the Center for Agroforestry website (http://www.centerforagroforestry.org/academy) to reach a wider audience and to be available for later use. The Agroforestry Academy web pages will include the following information:

  1. Instructors
  2. Trainee/educators
  3. Recorded presentations from 2013
  4. PowerPoint presentations from 2013 and 2014
  5. Weeklong agroforestry academy schedule of events for 2013 and 2014
  6. Training Manual and Handbook

Outcomes and impacts:

The initial target was to train fifty educators from a five state area in advanced agroforestry principles, practices, and design.

Ninety percent of Academy participants were expected to gain an improved understanding of the design and implementation of agroforestry practices.

Ninety percent of Academy participants were explected to show documented changes in awareness, knowledge, and motivation.

Enhanced communication will occur between professionals and practitioners and strengthened regional agroforestry partnerships and infrastructure across a five state region.

Tangible progress was demonstrated toward goal number one of USDA Agroforestry National Strategic Framework "The Framework’s first goal is to increase agroforestry adoption by landowners and communities by expanding learning partnerships with stakeholders and educating professionals."

In both 2013 and 2014, impact was measured with pre- and post- training surveys administered to participants attending the Agroforestry Academy. The surveys were specifically designed to determine participants’ level of satisfaction with the content and organization of the event, to document participants’ gain in knowledge and obtain suggestions for future programming.

The following summary is based on the results of the 29 pre- and post-academy surveys from 2014.

Twenty nine trainee/educators, class of 2014, indicated that they were very satisfied with the Agroforestry Academy. The quality of workshop overall was rated excellent by 76%, good by 21%, and fair by 3%.

These are similar evaluations to those from the 2013 Academy. In 2013 participants were very satisfied with Academy with overall quality rated as excellent by 71%, and good by 29%.

The top rated aspects of 2014 Academy (on a scale of 1 (unsatisfactory) to 5 (excellent)) were:

Site visits (4.86); Networking (4.76); Silvopasture (4.41)
Riparian/Upland Buffers (4.38); Financial Decision Support Tools (4.32)
Windbreaks (4.31); Case study (4.26)

More in depth Agroforestry Academy evaluations are attached to enable the readers to explore the outcomes in more depth including more detailed feedback from educator/trainees in both 2013 and 2014.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

The NCR-SARE PDP project #ENC12-129 entitled Increasing agroforestry adoption and networking in the Midwest through targeted professional development accomplished the objectives set out in the original proposal.

The initial target was to train fifty educators from a five state area in advanced agroforestry principles, practices, and design.  A total of fifty seven educators particpated in the 1st and 2nd Agroforestry Academy.

Ninety percent of Academy participants were expected to gain an improved understanding of the design and implementation of agroforestry practices.  100% of Academy participants indicated an improved understanding of agroforestry planning and design

Ninety percent of Academy participants were expected to show documented changes in awareness, knowledge, and motivation. Post-Academy evaluations revealed that:

  • 100% indicated that they benefited from information about agroforestry practices
  • 96% motivated to continue learning about agroforestry and to disseminate information about agroforestry
  • 92% motivated to get their organization more involved in agroforestry
  • Important benefits from academy participation included:

    • the network of participants and trainers
    • resource materials for future use

Enhanced communication will occur between professionals and practitioners and strengthened regional agroforestry partnerships and infrastructure across a five state region.  It was expected that the academy trainers and trainee “graduates” will organize their own agroforestry trainings and workshops. Center staff, MAAWG members and National Agroforestry Center staff will help conduct these trainings.

In additional to a major agroforestry educational event in 2015 (i.e., the 14th Biennial North American Agroforestry Conference, “Agroforestry as a Catalyst for On-Farm Conservation and Diversification”, June 1-3, 2015. Ames, IA. Registration information: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/registration/?RegistrationID=11440)

A number of spinoff agroforestry trainings are also planned for 2015 including:

  • Agroforestry Workshop, April 11, 2015. Allen Project Site, Laurie, MO. $10 registration Contact information: Caroline Todd, MU Center for Agroforestry, Phone: 573-884-2874; Email: toddcs@missouri.edu
  • Agroforestry Workshop “Incorporating trees and shrubs into contemporary agricultural systems”, May 20-21, 2015, Topeka, KS. $70 registration. Contact and registration information -- Mary Howell, Kansas Farmers Union. Phone: 785-562-8726; E-mail: kfu.mary@gmail.com
  • Pre-Conference Advanced Agroforestry Training Workshop, May 31, 2015, Ames, IA. $50 registration. The target audiences for the workshops are individuals who have attended the two recent Agroforestry Academies in 2013 and 2014 as well as natural resource professionals who have previous experience in planning agroforestry. Registration information: https://web.extension.illinois.edu/registration/?RegistrationID=11440

Recommendations:

Future Recommendations

The Academy Academy method of intensive training proved to be very effective in connecting existing agroforestry educator/trainers with educator/trainees and a number of landowners currently engaged in the practice of agroforestry. 

Plans are moving forward to continue offering the Agroforestry Academy.  Additional grant proposals are planned for 2015 to help support future Agroforestry Academy offerings in 2016 and 2017. 

In the interim:

A third, self-supporting, Agroforestry Academy, based in Columbia, Missouri will take place from July 20-24, 2015. The week-long training includes classroom workshops, on-farm visits and practical agroforestry planning and design, led by experienced trainers. Advanced training is provided on the five recognized temperate zone agroforestry practices integrated with options for bioenergy, marketing, economic, policy, social dimensions and environmental services. A major difference for 2015 (the NCR-SARE PDP grant ended in 2014) is that the target audience will be broadened. Along with a focus on educators, the 2015 Agroforestry Academy is open to additional USDA target audiences, i.e., military veterans, limited resource, and socially disadvantaged farmers. The 2015 Agroforestry Academy will also be open to international educators. For more information contact Gregory Ormsby Mori at ormsbyg@missouri.edu.

 

Information Products

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.