Modernizing grazing resources for the next generation of agriculture and natural resource professionals

Progress report for ENC19-177

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $87,977.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2022
Grant Recipient: GrassWorks, Inc.
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Jill Hapner
GrassWorks, Inc.
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Project Information


The proposed project will build upon GrassWorks’ ongoing initiative to create new resources and increase the breadth, depth and reach of existing tools, resources, and networks throughout the state to scale up agency awareness and support of managed grazing. The target audience for the project is university, non-profit, and agency staff throughout the state of Wisconsin and neighboring states. Over the last decade, Wisconsin has lost nearly all of its Extension and state-level agency capacity to provide research-based information on managed grazing. GrassWorks, a state-wide farmer-run non-profit, has stepped in to fill the void in partnership with the University of Wisconsin Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems. Activities planned include bringing together grazing farmers and agency staff to produce a new series of on-farm videos about managed grazing, developing an online grazing resource library and an “Ask A Grazier” forum, expanding and updating the Grazing Ambassador program, creating a master resource list of grazing events and professionals throughout the state, and recruiting incoming agency staff and Technical Service Providers (TSPs) to join Wisconsin’s growing network of grazing professionals.

Project Objectives:

The on-farm videos series will produce twelve or more brief, 5-10 minute videos explaining key concepts of grazing management in a “show & tell” format in which interviewees explain a concept and demonstrate it in the field. These videos will be freely available on a common online platform (YouTube or Vimeo) and linked on the GrassWorks website, with shareable links available for collaborators. Through sharing with partners, use in events, and online promotion, we anticipate each of these videos generating at least 1,000 views by the conclusion of the grant. These videos will be intended for incoming agency staff and beginning graziers, but could also be accessed by experienced grazing professionals or members of the public.  

The GrassWorks website will be expanded to include new pages listing contact information for grazing professionals in the Upper Midwest, an updated and comprehensive list of grazing events in the area, and grazing resource library featuring links to key grazing instructional materials. An “Ask A Grazier” forum will also be established based on input from the web designer, in which users will be able to post questions and comments that can be responded to by knowledgeable GrassWorks members identified by the project coordinator. Using Google Analytics or a similar web traffic monitoring system, we anticipate having at least 1,000 unique visitors to the GrassWorks website, and more than 25 active discussions in the “Ask A Grazier” forum, in the final year of the grant. The project coordinator will work with collaborators to develop a promotional strategy for the website utilizing word-of-mouth, mailing lists, and social media campaigns.

New materials will be developed for the Grazing Ambassadors program, enabling agency staff or GrassWorks members to deliver presentations for local community organizations such as library groups, nature centers, and high school classes. The project coordinator will oversee this program and work with presenters to maintain records of attendance and participation. With a target of at least 12 Grazing Ambassador presentations within the grant timeline and a conservative estimate of at least 20 attendees per presentation, the Grazing Ambassador program is expected to introduce the concepts and benefits of managed grazing to at least 240 individuals in the Upper Midwest.

In-person training events for incoming agency staff will build upon existing training efforts and will utilize the new grazing resources and individual and interagency competitions to motivate engagement. Quarterly meetings held in conjunction with the GrassWorks grazing conference or in collaboration with the three RC&D partners are conservatively estimated to draw at least 25 attendees each, for a total of 300 attendees at in-person training events. Based on estimates of incoming staff in NRCS, University Extension, DNR, and county conservation divisions, these meetings aim to reach up to 100 unique individuals who are early-career conservation professionals. End-of-meeting evaluations will be used to record attendance and impact of meeting activities.


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Educational approach:

This grant focuses on using farmer-to-farmer and train-the-trainer collaborative instruction methods, in which farmers and grazing specialists are encouraged to work together to share experiences and find solutions together using modern outreach methods such as websites, webinars, online videos, and social media platforms.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

On-farm video series

The first program activity, which is targeted to incoming agency staff but could potentially have a broad reach, is an on-farm video series about implementing managed grazing. The project coordinator is working with farmer collaborators, River Country RC&D, and Trempealeau County Public Television to collect on-farm interviews with experienced graziers.


This project objective was significantly impaired by the COVID-19 pandemic. To maintain progress on this objective, four online webinars were recorded as videos for the GrassWorks YouTube channel and Facebook page in 2020. In 2021, twelve additional videos were added, with additional completed videos scheduled for rollout in 2022. All videos are available at

Outcomes and impacts:

Thirteen online webinars and three in-field interviews have been shared on the GrassWorks YouTube channel. To date, the videos have received over 700 views, with 4,500 additional views on the GrassWorks, Inc Facebook page.  These videos are publicly available at

Online grazing resource hub

Developing a comprehensive online resource hub for grazing information.


The GrassWorks webpage is already a regularly-used source of grazing information, but details of upcoming events and agency contacts quickly becomes outdated. The project coordinator position will provide stable and consistent management of the grazing news and resources throughout the state. Cooperator Rachel Bouressa has updated the GrassWorks lists of statewide grazing groups, grazing specialists, and maintained the GrassWorks events calendar for the past two years.

The GrassWorks Facebook page has also been expanded to include an “Ask A Grazier” Facebook group and Google group, where incoming agency staff and beginning graziers are able to post questions and receive responses from experienced graziers and agency staff. The group now has nearly 500 members and averages multiple weekly posts. It can be viewed at

Outcomes and impacts:

Cooperator Rachel Bouressa has updated the GrassWorks lists of statewide grazing groups, grazing specialists, and maintained the GrassWorks events calendar for the past two years. These resources have been advertised at GrassWorks and related grazing events, and are maintained on the following pages:

Grazing Networks

Grazing Specialists

Pasture Walks and Events Calendar

The GrassWorks Facebook page has also been expanded to include an “Ask A Grazier” Facebook group (296 members at the end of 2020, 492 members at the end of 2021 - and Google group, ( which have been quite active. These online networking resources seem to have been especially helpful to producers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Grazing Ambassadors program

The project coordinator will oversee the update and expansion of the Grazing Ambassador program.


This objective was significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Cooperator Thelma Heidel-Baker has worked with project partners to update the Grazing Ambassador program and materials, but limitations on in-person gatherings have prevented Grazing Ambassador presentations from being held. We are currently experimenting with options to further develop the program into an online webinar format.

Outcomes and impacts:

The Grazing Ambassador program has been updated and expanded by farmer and project partner Thelma Heidel-Baker, who has held two "virtual" versions of the presentation for small audiences in 2021.

G-Team meetings

Quarterly in-person trainings are being held for grazing-focused agency staff (the "G-Team") throughout the three-year duration of the project.


Quarterly in-person trainings will be held for grazing-focused agency staff (the "G-Team") throughout the three-year duration of the project: one in each of the three collaborating RC&D areas, which may include a pasture walk or other hands-on event, and a winter meeting for agency staff in conjunction with the annual GrassWorks conference.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to shift many of these meetings as online webinars, and have held nine  meetings to date (details below):

Aug. 15th, 2019 - Marshfield Ag Research Station - 32 attendees

Nov 12th, 2019 - Marshfield Ag Research Station - 45 attendees

Jan 23rd, 2020 - Chula Vista Resort (GrassWorks conference) - 29 attendees

May 7th, 2020 - online webinar - 131 attendees

Sep 29th, 2020 - online webinar - approximately 40 attendees

Nov 17th, 2020 - online webinar - 49 attendees

April 20th, 2021 - online webinar - approximately 50 attendees

Sep 23rd, 2021 - Marshfield Ag Research Station - approximately 50 in-person attendees

Dec 7th, 2021 - online webinar - approximately 50 attendees

Outcomes and impacts:

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we were able to maintain these meetings as online webinars, and have held nine meetings to date:

No.  Date Location Attendees Host Topic
1 15-Aug-19 Marshfield Ag Research Station 32 CIAS, GrassWorks Utilizing emergency forages
2 12-Nov-19 Marshfield Ag Research Station 45 CIAS/Golden Sands RC&D Financial analysis
3 23-Jan-20 Wis. Dells (GrassWorks conference) 29 CIAS, GrassWorks Hosting pasture walks
4 7-May-20 online webinar 131 Glacierland RC&D Grazing & grassland birds
5 29-Sep-20 online webinar appx. 40 River Country RC&D Grazing environmental benefits
6 17-Nov-20 online webinar 49 Golden Sands RC&D Pandemic response
7 20-Apr-21 online webinar appx. 50 Golden Sands RC&D Overview of grazing & soil carbon research
8 23-Sep-21 Marshfield Ag Research Station appx. 50 Glacierland RC&D Discussion with new NRCS state grazing specialist
9 7-Dec-21 online webinar appx. 50 Glacierland RC&D Training - new NRCS grazing plan req's

Educational & Outreach Activities

4 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
9 Online trainings
13 Webinars / talks / presentations
3 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

25 Extension
25 Researchers
25 Nonprofit
30 Agency
20 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
20 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

500 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
50 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

50 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
500 Farmers reached through participant's programs
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.