Final Report for ENC98-034

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1998: $32,308.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2001
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $29,934.00
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program
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Project Information

Abstract:

This project provided professional development training at three regional workshops in management intensive grazing systems to 65 Extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Soil and Water Conservation District (NRCS) personnel. Participants gained a general understanding of management intensive grazing systems and were given the necessary resources to refer their clientele to appropriate experts and other sources of information. A resource notebook was developed that was used in conjunction with the workshops and as a future reference guide. The workshops and related activities increased the involvement of the University of Illinois Agroeconomic/Sustainable Agriculture Program (ASAP) in management intensive grazing systems outreach as well as increased the awareness of sustainable agriculture to workshop participants.

Project Objectives:

1.Extension, NRCS and SWCD personnel will be provided with professional development training in management intensive grazing systems. Three workshops will provide personnel with an introduction to these systems through classroom instruction and field tours. Participants will gain a general understanding of management intensive grazing systems and will have the necessary resources to refer the clientele to appropriate experts and other sources of information. The educators for the workshops will include Extension, NRCS, Uofl researchers, grazing and forage specialists from other states and producers employing management intensive grazing systems on their farms.

2.Compile a resource notebook that will be used in conjunction with the workshops. The notebook will contain several publications, including Missouri Grazing Manual and the ATTRA Beef Farm Sustainability Checksheet. The notebook will also include information about sustainable agriculture programs and activities in Illinois, as well as SARE programs, regionally and nationally.

3.Increase the involvement of the University of Illinois Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture Program (ASAP) in management intensive grazing systems education and outreach.

4. Increase the awareness of sustainable agriculture to those presently involved in management intensive grazing systems outreach, education and research and the workshop participants. Provide information about the ASAP program and SARE activities both in North Central region and nationally.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

Three, three day workshops were held for Extension, NRCS, and SWCD personnel. An agenda is provided in Appendix A. The workshops included topics such as 1) management intensive grazing systems concepts and principles, 2) how to extend the grazing season and 3) fencing. The workshops also included field trips to grazing operations, as well as panel discussions of experienced grazers. The workshop at Simpson was geld at the University of Illinois, Dixon Springs Research Center. This location included a tour of the research facility and an opportunity to learn more about the largest grazing research project in Illinois. The workshops at Findlay and Freeport included tours to local farms (each workshop had two farm tours). The participants were provided with the opportunity to talk directly with an experienced grazier. The educators for the workshops include Extension, NRCS, researchers, grazing and forage specialists from other states and producers employing management intensive grazing systems on their farms. The workshops were planned and coordinated by a five-member team, Roger Staff (NRCS), Richard Hungerford (NRCS), Ed Ballard (UI Extension), Dean Oswald (UI Extension), and Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant (UI).

A resource notebook was developed for used during three workshops. The notebook contained several publications, including the Missouri Grazing Manual and the ATTRA Beef Farm Sustainability Checksheet. The notebook also included information about sustainable agriculture programs and activities in Illinois, as well as SARE programs, regionally and nationally. The basis for the resource notebook was information gathered by NRCS, Extension, and UIUC staff. The notebook was used to present information to educators through the “hands-on” workshops that included both classroom and on-farm instruction using the practices and technologies provided information about successful application and integration of practices, diverse information resources and research results.

Outreach and Publications

A Resource Manual- Management Intensive Grazing Systems Spring 1999- was distributed to each workshop participant (binder was sent with the Annual Report in November 199). The manual included the following sections: MIG Principles, Soil and Water Resources, Animal Health, Plant Growth, Forages, Resources Inventory, Case Farm, Featured Speaker, Matching Animals to Forages, Animal Requirements, Soil Fertility, Environmental Benefits, Water Systems, Layout and Fencing, Holistic Resource Management, Tour, Extended Grazing Season. Economic, Grazier Panels and Reference Materials. Information about the workshops was available on the Agroecology/Sustainable Agriculture website, as well as in the Agroeology Sustainable Agriculture newsletter.

Outcomes and impacts:

The workshops were held on March 15-17, 1999 at the Inn at Eagle Creek (Findlay); March 29-31 at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center (Simpson); and April 12-14, Highland Community College (Freeport). A total of 65 people attended the three workshops. The March 15-17 workshop at Findlay had 19 people attend (Extension 3, NRCS 11, SWCD 3, Farmers 2). The March 29-31 workshop at Simpson had 26 people attend (Extension 0, NRCS 19, RC& D 1, SWCD 3, Farmers 2, University 1). The April 12-14 workshop at Freeport had 20 people attend (Extension 7,NRCS 11, SWCD 1, University 1). The workshops included speakers from extension (7), NRCS (3), University (7) and farmers (6) (appendix B). Relationships were fostered between and among university researchers, educators and farmers.

A pre- and post-survey was sent to participants (appendices c and d). The pre-survey focused on the present level of knowledge and asked for the personal objectives for attending the workshops. The post-survey focused on the impact of the workshops and how the participant’s knowledge was increased. A follow-up survey showed that 41% of the respondents attended additional training (n=37); 46% of the respondents said that they had developed programs (or assisted in the development of programming; 81% of the respondents said that they had discussed managements intensive grazing with their clients and 97% said that the resource manual was useful.

The training was successful on several fronts. As mentioned in the evaluation, the participants felt that the training was very worthwhile. From a logistical standpoint, there were some difficulties. The workshops were advertised for several months. Interested persons were asked to send in an application form. They were then sent a Lodging and Meal form and an agenda. Seventy-five individuals registered for the three workshops (as specified in the grant). Problems arose when several people backed out a few days before the workshop. We also had several registrants that just did not show up. If registrants had a “financial stake”, perhaps they would have been more inclined to attend. We also had very poor participation by Extension personnel in the southern and central regions of the state. In planning future training activities will need to get the dates on the “formal” Extension calendar.

Project Outcomes

Recommendations:

Future Recommendations

Additional training in management intensive grazing would be beneficial. Development and distribution of grazing publications to workshop participants and other interested persons would also be important.

Potential Contributions

The workshops provided participants with a general understanding of management intensive grazing systems and the necessary resources to refer the clientele to appropriate experts and other sources of information. Two primary goals of the training were 1) to provide a general background in management intensive grazing so that educators awareness was increased and 2) insuring that NRCS and SWCD personnel had adequate information and resources to provide farmers with the tools to develop farm plants that could incorporate managed intensive grazing options. From the results of the surveys, these goals were met for most participants. Through participation of grazing specialists from Iowa, Kentucky and Wisconsin, opportunities for collaboration was increased. One example, following the workshop in Freeport, several educators attended a grazing field day in Wisconsin.

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.