Workshops on Land Use and Farmland Policy

Final Report for ENC98-035

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1998: $48,247.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2001
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $46,019.00
Region: North Central
State: Ohio
Project Coordinator:
Kevin Schmidt
American Farmland Trust
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Project Information

Abstract:

[Note to online version: The report for this project includes appendices that could not be included here. The regional SARE office will mail a hard copy of the entire report at your request. Just contact North Central SARE at (402) 472-7081 or ncrsare@unl.edu.]

With considerable stakeholder involvement, American Farmland Trust and our partners in Ohio and Illinois designed and developed a series of one-day workshops and training materials to train USDA field personnel on land use management issues and farmland protection so that they could then provide assistance to their communities. This three-year project was pilot tested at five locations throughout Ohio and replicated at two locations in Illinois. The quality of the materials and the involvement of a broad spectrum of stakeholders made this project unique in its efforts to address the growing need in the region for information on land use issues at the local level.

The objectives of this project were to: (1) Provide a training opportunity for Cooperative Extension and USDA/NRCS field staff in Ohio on the issues inherent in land use pressure at the rural-urban interface and policy options for guiding land use change in the interest of protecting farmland; (2) Provide them with information on how to determine land-use changes in their communities and what tools and techniques have been utilized to address these issues, and (3) Establish the basis for continuing informal involvement in land use policy discussions and participant-offered training of others as future needs arise.

During November 1998 and June 1999, five workshops were held at various locations in Ohio. The total attendance was 173 people. Prior to each of these workshops, members of the State Advisory Committee met with local representatives of OSU Extension, NRCS and Soil and Water Conservation Districts in the region to discuss workshop content, speakers, location and date. While the specific content presented at each workshop remained flexible enough to allow for regional differences, each workshop covered the following four components: (1) Getting a Handle on the Question of Demographics; (2) Determining What The People Want; (3) Land Use and Farmland Policy Tools and Techniques; and (4) Putting It All Together.

This template was replicated in Illinois during 2000-2001. Working with state and local partners, AFT developed and delivered two additional training workshops in April 2001. The total attendance was 144 people.

This project was important not only because it provided traditional SARE PDP audiences with a better understanding of land use and farmland protection policy issues, but also because it provided them with the materials necessary to assist both farm and non-farm citizens in understanding how to sustain important agricultural resources.

Follow up evaluations indicated that: 43 percent of respondents said six months after the workshops that they have conducted or planned on conducting their own workshops using information from the training session (Ohio); 98 percent of respondents indicated two month after the training that they found the workshop to be helpful in assisting them with answering land use or farmland protection questions (Illinois); and 81 percent of respondents indicated two month after the training that they found the workbook to be helpful in assisting them with answering land use or farmland protection questions (Illinois).

Project Objectives:

Provide a training opportunity for Cooperative Extension and USDA/NRCS field staff in Ohio on the issues inherent in land use pressure at the rural-urban interface and the materials necessary to assist both farm and non-farm citizens in understanding how to sustain important agricultural resources.

Provide them with the following specific capabilities:
a) How to determine land use, economic and demographic changes in their counties
b) How to determine citizen preferences and attitudes about land use patterns
c) Detailed understanding of existing or potential tools and techniques to guide development and protect farmland
d) Understanding of comprehensive planning as a formal process and the plan as a strategic document.

Establish the basis for continuing informal involvement in land use policy discussions and participant-offered training of others as future needs arise.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Farmland protection and land use issues are complex and often highly emotional issues. They are also largely local issues. Workshops on farmland protection, if they are to be useful, must be flexible in order to accommodate the inherent differences that arise among and within different states. It was for this reason that we decided to include as much local input into this project as possible.

The original intent of this project was to pilot a series of workshops in Ohio during the first year and then to replicate these workshops in Illinois and Iowa during the second year. While the second year of funding was not granted from NC SARE PDP during FY99, additional funding was secured to allow two additional workshops to be replicated in Illinois in 2001.

The Ohio workshops were directed by the Ohio Advisory Committee, which reviewed the workshop agenda, helped to identify speakers and reviewed potential materials for the training workbook. The Ohio Advisory Committee was chaired by Kevin Schmidt (American Farmland Trust), and included Larry Libby (Ohio State University), Karl Gebhardt (Ohio Department of Agriculture), John Stamm (Ohio State University Extension), Tom Price (Delaware County farmer), Joel Hastings (Ohio Farm Bureau), and Allen Prindle (Otterbein College).

The full Ohio Advisory Committee met twice to review the draft agenda and workbook materials. In addition, each member of the Ohio Advisory Committee was asked to present at one of the five workshops. The project coordinators (Kevin Schmidt, Larry Libby, John Stamm) were responsible for coordinating and facilitating the five workshops and for managing the overall structure of the project. Prior to each workshop, the project coordinators met with key members of OSU Extension, NRCS and SWCD agents in the region and developed with them the workshop agenda, workshop speakers, location and time of year for the each workshop. This step was extremely important, as it allowed for local flexibility while still remaining true to the original objectives of the project.

After our initial discussions with the Ohio Advisory Committee, we agreed on a workshop format that included the following four components:

1) Getting a handle on the question of demographics- The purpose of this session was to help participants determine land use, economic and demographic changes in their counties.
2) Determining what the people want- The purpose of this session was to discuss citizen preference surveys and other ways to gauge attitudes about land use and to help participants better understand how to facilitate these discussions.
3) Land use and farmland policy tools and techniques- The purpose of this session was to provide an overview a comprehensive land use plan/planning process and to analyze land use and farmland protection tools and techniques.
4) Putting it all together- The purpose of this session was to have participants discuss the roles that they may be asked to play in developing comprehensive land use and farmland protection plans as well as the barriers and obstacles that exist in creating such plans.

Within this framework, local representatives of the target audience then suggested the speakers from the region that were best suited to address these topics. In cases were a local speaker was not identified, the project coordinators suggested the speakers that had been identified by the state advisory committee (for a complete list of the five workshop agendas/speakers, please see Appendix 1).

The materials that were included in the training workbook were recommendations that resulted from discussion with the AFT’s Farmland Advisory Services (FAS) and the Ohio Advisory Committee. FAS specializes in custom-designing materials on farmland protection to fit specific needs. In this case, FAS compiled relevant national level materials including: information pertaining to agricultural statistics, a summary of Land Use and Site Assessment models; AFT’s Farmland Protection Fact Sheet Series: a list of national Web sites; a guide to using the internet and the Farmland Information Library; and a copy of AFT’s Farming on the Edge map for use on an overhead projector. Members of the Ohio Advisory Committee developed relevant local materials, include a summary of the zoning process in Ohio, a contact list of organizations, information on locating land use data in Ohio and OSU Extension’s Land Use Team Fact Sheets.

This workshop and workbook development process was replicated in Illinois, with the support of an advisory committee comprised of key stakeholders in the state. The Illinois Advisory Committee met for the first time in July of 2000. The committee was chaired by Kevin Schmidt (American Farmland Trust) and included Joe Bybee (Illinois Department of Agriculture), Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant (University of Illinois- Urbana/Champaign), John Church (University of Illinois Extension), Jim Hartwig (Illinois Department of Agriculture), Glenn Loving (Illinois farmer), Bob McLeese, (USDA NRCS), Ed Minihan (Upper Midwest Regional Director, American Farmland Trust), Kevin Rund (Illinois Farm Bureau Federation), and Kim St. John (Prairie Rivers RC&D).

Outcomes and impacts:

During November 1998 and June 1999 we held five one-day regional workshops on land use and farmland protection throughout Ohio. These workshops provided a training opportunity for OSU Extension, NRCS and Ohio SWCD staff on the issues inherent in land use pressure at the rural-urban interface and policy options for guiding land use change in the interest of protecting farmland. As a result, participants were then able to assist both farm and non-farm citizens in understanding how to sustain important agricultural resources. We had a total of 173 participants and speakers during these five workshops. In addition, each workshop speaker and participant, as well as all 88 Ohio Federation of Soil and Water Conservation District offices, received a training workbook that provided important resource materials and camera-ready fact sheets that could be used by participants to provide technical assistance in their communities.

Each of the five workshops addressed the following topics:

a) How to determine land use, economic and demographic changes in Ohio counties
b) How to conduct citizen preference surveys and facilitate discussion of community attitudes about land use patterns
c) Tools and techniques for guiding land use and protecting farmland
d) The process of creating a comprehensive land use plan and the role of this plan as a strategic document

The final session of the workshop was designed with the goal of bringing together OSU Extension, NRCS, SWCD agents, farmers, county commissioners and township trustees so that they could begin to establish the basis for continuing involvement in land use policy discussions in their communities.

Training Sessions

Title: NW Ohio Regional Workshop on Land Use and Farmland Policy
Date: November 12, 1998
Location: Finlay, OH
Individuals trained: 41 (5 organizations represented)
Educators participating: 9 (7 organizations represented)
Farmers teaching: 1

Title: Eastern Ohio Regional Workshop on Land Use and Farmland Policy
Date: December 15, 1998
Location: Cambridge, OH
Individuals trained: 31 (8 organizations represented)
Educators participating: 10 (10 organizations represented)
Farmers teaching: 2

Title: SW Ohio Regional Workshop on Land Use and Farmland Policy
Date: March 19, 1999
Location: Springfield, OH
Individuals trained: 19 (7 organizations represented)
Educators participating: 11 (9 organizations represented)
Farmers teaching: 1

Title: Southern Ohio Regional Workshop on Land Use and Farmland Policy
Date: May 12, 1999
Location: Jackson, OH
Individuals trained: 17 (4 organizations represented)
Educators participating: 11 (9 organizations represented)
Farmers teaching: 1

Title: NE Ohio Regional Workshop on Land Use and Farmland Policy
Date: June 03, 1999
Location: Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Individuals trained: 16 (5 organizations represented)
Educators participating: 8 (7 organizations represented)
Farmers teaching: 1

Once the Ohio workshops were completed, we asked NC SARE for a no-cost extension and raised additional funding so that we could replicate these training sessions in Illinois. Working in conjunction with state partners, we developed and delivered two one-day regional workshops on land use and farmland protection in Illinois. The first was held in Sycamore and the second in Springfield. As in Ohio, these workshops were designed to provide USDA field staff in Illinois with training and materials that they could then assist their communities with land use and farmland protection issues. We had a total of 144 participants and speakers during these two workshops. As in Ohio, AFT and our partners developed a training manual that was specific to Illinois and provided materials that could be used to assist farmers, elected officials, planners and other stakeholders in the community.

Title: Illinois Farmland Protection Training Workshop Date: April 4, 2001
Location: Sycamore, IL
Individuals trained: 74 (18 organizations represented)
Educators participating: 9 (5 organizations represented)
Farmers teaching: 1

Title: Illinois Farmland Protection Training Workshop Date: April 5, 2001
Location: Springfield, IL
Individuals trained: 53 (11 organizations represented)
Educators participating: 8 (5 organizations represented)
Farmers teaching: 1

Project Outcomes

Recommendations:

Future Recommendations

At each of the workshop sessions, the participants expressed the need to have these type of trainings delivered to other audiences as well as USDA field personnel. The participants suggested replicating the training to cover: state and local farm bureaus, state departments of agriculture, state departments of natural resources, development groups, citizens, public interest groups, county board officials, city and township governments, planning and zoning committees, local conservation groups and land trusts.

Workshop participants also indicated in both sets of workshops that there needs to be additional workshops that go the next step by focusing on addressing the sustainability of the agricultural economy. This desire for the development of agricultural economic development training also was repeated in similar SARE-funded PDP workshops in Idaho, Utah, Maryland, Delaware and Virginia.

This project is currently being replicated in South Carolina and will add a new component that deals with individual landowner options to protecting their farm and forest land.

Potential Contributions

For each training project, we developed a series of evaluation mechanisms that could be used to help determine the outcomes that occurred as a result of this training. 

Ohio

Overall, the evaluation and feedback that we received from workshop participants indicated that they thought it was an informative session and one that was timely given current state and local farmland protection initiatives in Ohio. In addition, many of the participants have read the information in the workbook and plan on using the information presented at the workshop as part of their own workshops or meetings. In order to evaluate the overall success of the workshop and workbooks, three separate evaluations were used. One evaluation was administered during the workshop itself, followed by both a one-month and a five-six month evaluation.

During the workshop, each participant and speaker was asked to rank each presenter and the overall quality of the conference and notebooks, as well as provide any comments. Of the 173 total possible responses, 70 of the evaluations were received (40%). Of these responses, the overall rating of the conference on a scale of 1 to 10 was an 8.4, and the overall rating of the workbooks was an 8.6. 

The one-month evaluation was administered in order to assess the effectiveness of both the workshops and the materials and to see if the participants were using the information. 

Participants were asked to respond Yes or No to the following questions:
1) Have you read the materials that were handed out in the reference books?
Yes: 39 
No: 7

2) Did you find the information that was provided in the workbooks to be useful?
Yes: 42
No: 4

3) Have you used the materials/information from either the presentations or the workbooks to provide others with assistance on land use and farmland policy issues?
Yes: 16
No: 30

Finally, each participant received a five/six-month follow up letter asking them to answer the following questions:
1) Since the workshop how many times per month have you been asked a land use or farmland policy question?
0-5: 46
6-10: 15
11-15: 5
16-20: 6
More than 20: 1

2) How many times per month have you referred to the workbook?
0-5: 67
6-10: 7
11-15: 0
16-20: 0
More than 20: 0

3) Have you conducted (or do you plan to conduct) your own workshops or meetings using information from the training workshop/notebooks?
Yes: 33
No: 40

Illinois

For the Illinois workshops we revised the original evaluation so that it better verified changes in behavior as a result of these training workshops. This time we used only two evaluation mechanisms in order to determine the results of the training workshops. 

The first evaluation was handed out during the training workshops. Of the 127 participants that attended the training (speakers and organizers did not complete evaluations), 67 responded to the first evaluation. Of the 67 respondents, 81 percent ranked the workshop overall as either a four or a five, with five being the highest rating. 72 percent ranked the workbook as either a four or a five. 

Participants were also asked whether they had a better understanding of the issues and whether thought they could assist their communities or planned on assisting them. When asked whether they had a better understanding of the basic elements of farmland protection as a result of attending the workshop, 93 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that they did. When asked whether they felt confident that they could assist their community or organization in farmland protection efforts as a result of the workshop, 76 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that they could. Finally, when asked whether they expect to use the training information to provide technical assistance to their communities, 81 percent either agreed or strongly agreed that they did.

The second evaluation was mailed out to participants approximately 2 months after the workshops were held. This evaluation was designed to see whether or not participants had begun to make any behavior changes as a result of the trainings. Of the 127 participants, 43 responded to this evaluation. 

Since the workshops, 91 percent of the respondents had been asked at least one land use or farmland protection question, 35 percent of whom had been asked six or more questions. Since the workshops, 72 percent had referred to their training notebooks for information, 33 percent of whom referred to the notebooks at least three times or more.

Of the 43 respondents, 98 percent indicated two month after the training that they found the workshop to be helpful in assisting them with answering land use or farmland protection questions and 81 percent of respondents indicated two month after the training that they found the workbook to be helpful in assisting them with answering land use or farmland protection questions.

When asked specifically whether they have conducted any meetings using the information, only 5 percent responded yes. When asked whether they were planning on using the information to conduct meetings or workshops, however, 28 percent of respondents indicated that they were planning on conducting these workshops. 

The following are comments that were included as part of the Illinois training follow up evaluation:
What was most helpful about the WORKSHOP:

  • “Learning new information for use in my job”
  • “Hearing testimony that it (farmland protection) works”
  • “Knowledge of what other areas are doing”
  • “Excellent program on the latest news in farmland protection”
  • “Providing education and awareness on the facts”
  • “Covered so many aspects of issues and related program”
  • “Discussion on zoning”
  • “Actually had the chance to sit down and think about the issue”
  • “In depth look at specific tools, case studies”
  • “Speakers from where the work was being done (Wisconsin)”
  • “Networking and exchange of ideas”
  • “The contacts and the resources”
  • “Local presenters for local credibility and local statistics”
  • “The videos and funding discussions”
  • “I enjoyed the small group discussions because of other people’s perspectives from throughout the area”
  • “Gaining insight on why and who is most interested in protecting farmland.”
  • “Increased awareness of options other than rampant development.”
  • “Networking with other county officials on mutual concerns. Hearing “stats” on farm loss.”

What was most helpful about the WORKBOOK:

  • “Having all the information in one location and not scattered around in my files”
  • “Having current information”
  • “A good one stop for reference data”
  • “Exhaustive reference”
  • “Fact sheets”
  • “The tools section. I have many questions regarding easements over the years.”

Farmer Adoption, Impact, Involvement

Not applicable. While the farmer is one of the ultimate end users of this training, the target audience for this project was those USDA field service providers that work with farmers and other stakeholders in the community. One farmer from each state did participate on the state advisory committees and we did have at least one farmer deliver a presentation at each of the workshops.

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.