Tactical Agriculture (TAg) Train the Trainer Workshop

Final Report for ENE06-101

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2006: $24,225.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Northeast
State: New York
Project Leader:
Julie Dennis (formerly Stavisky)
Cornell University/NYS IPM
Co-Leaders:
Kenneth Wise
NYS IPM/Cornell U.
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Project Information

Summary:

Two train–the–trainer workshops were held in Albany NY on the design, teaching approach, and evaluation of effective Tactical Agriculture (TAg) training programs. Workshops were offered February 1-2, 2007 and February 14-15, 2008. A total of 20 northeast region educators participated in the workshops including: Cornell Cooperative Extension (13), the NYS IPM program (1), NE SARE (1), the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension (2), the Maine Department of Agriculture (1) and the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project in cooperation with Tufts University (2). The workshop was very well received by participants as indicated by exit survey responses. Following completion of the workshop 15 of the 20 participants initiated new TAg or TAg-like programs reaching 180 plus, producer/farmers.

Performance Target:

-Train 20 Extension Educators in the Northeast US to design and administer a TAg program in the county or region.

-Ten extension educators will successfully design and administer at least one TAg or TAg-like program within a year after the completion of the training workshop.

Introduction:

Tactical Agriculture (TAg) programs have been offered by the NYS Integrated Pest Management Program (NYS IPM) since 1990. TAg is an experiential, hands-on, season-long IPM and integrated crop management (ICM) educational program for small groups of producers in local areas. TAg program has been used successfully in New York to teach producers to better manage field crops, protect the environment, reduce health risks, and enhance long-term farm viability by implementing specific targeted IPM and ICM practices. While most extension educators conduct in-field workshops to disseminate current integrated crop management (ICM) and integrated pest management (IPM) information and strategies to producers, these programs often do not maximize the full educational advantage for adult learners. Producers in a TAg program are actively integrated into the growing-season-long educational program in which data is collected from their fields. On-farm meetings are timed to discuss critical pest and crop management issues that arise during the growing season. Impacts of the program are measured by pre- and post-testing of subject matter and an exit survey to determine the percentage of adoption of IPM and ICM practices taught to producers.

This TAg train–the-trainer workshop was conducted to share the philosophy, approach, experiences and framework for implementation of this innovative program with Northeastern US agriculture educator colleagues.

The following topics were addressed in the workshops:
1. What is TAg?
2. Effective Small Group Teaching Dynamics
3. Introduction to the Use and Design of Teaching Modules
4. Effective teaching aids and handouts to use the field
5. Evaluation and Impacts of a TAg program
6. How to use impact information in your county, region or state
7. Establishment of a shared website for TAg educators on development of their TAg program.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Julie Dennis (formerly Stavisky)

Educational Approach

Educational approach:

Our first step was to advertise and encourage northeastern extension educators and other agricultural professionals to attend the workshop. Invitations were sent to all northeast land grant universities extension departments, non-profit agricultural institutions and other organizations about potential participants. We also got an email list of every extension educator (agricultural related) and extension faculty member in the Northeast US. Personal emails were sent to each of them inviting them to participate in the workshop.

Our next step was to develop a team of extension educators that helped plan and implement this project. The workshop design team was Ken Wise (Eastern NYS IPM Field Crops and Livestock Specialist), Julianne Dennis (Western NYS IPM Field Crops and Livestock Specialist), J. Keith Waldron (NYS IPM Livestock and Field Crops Coordinator) Michael W. Duttweiler (Assistant CCE Director, Program and Professional Development) and Steven Hadcock (Extension Resource Educator). The team worked together to develop the agenda, identify speakers, and create hands-on activities, support materials and resources. The workshop format was organized to provide participants with a philosophical and practical foundation, with learning and planning activities integrated into the sessions to help educators design a TAg program that fit the needs of their farmer/producer clientele. When the 2 day workshop was finished the educator had the framework and plan for conducting a TAg program relative to their agricultural discipline.

Each participant received a planning book at the start of the workshop that was meant to help the educator design a TAg program by going through a step-by-step process. This plan book had copies of each PowerPoint lecture and worksheets that corresponded to the talks. Several breakout sessions were incorporated into the workshop to foster team building and collaboration to work together on designing a TAg program. Learning groups have proven to empower the educator and is a very effective way of designing activities in educational programs. The educators in this workshop enjoyed the fact that they were able to work together at developing a TAg program as opposed to just sitting and watching talk after talk and working alone. By mixing subject lectures and learning group activities the participants stayed engaged in the workshop.

We conducted 2 separate workshops in Albany, NY on February 1-2, 2007 and February 14-15, 2008. The agenda for the workshop can be found in attached document below.

At the completion of the workshop each participant had the basic framework for implementing a TAg program to their producers, growers or nurserymen. Each participant completed a workshop evaluation. Results of this evaluation are presented in the results and discussion of milestones section. A follow-up survey was conducted a year after each workshop to document the TAg efforts educators had implemented as a result of the workshop participation.

Supplemental activity:

With approval of the NE SARE Program we developed 5 TAg teaching modules in soybean IPM and ICM. Because most of the programs were developed for use in Soybean TAg efforts, we chose to prepare modules in IPM for Asian Soybean Aphids, IPM for Asian Soybean Rust, IPM for Insect Pest of Soybeans, IPM for Foliar Diseases of Soybeans and ICM for Soybeans. These completed educational resources have been added to the TAg modules already available at the Northeast Region's IPM/ICM SARE teaching modules website (http://www.northeastipm.org/saremod/index.html) for professional agricultural educators use in the Northeast.

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
Accomplishments:

Publications

We organized a Tactical Agriculture (TAg) train – the – trainer workshop to introduce professional agriculture educators to the development and implementation of an innovative experiential training program designed to enhance integrated pest and crop management, understanding, use and adoption. Northeastern US extension personnel and other selected agriculture educators were invited to participate in one of two workshops offered in Albany, NY. The train the trainer workshops were held February 1-2, 2007 at the Desmond Inn in Albany, NY and February 14-15, 2008 at the Holiday Inn. A total of 20 northeast region educators participated in the workshops including: Cornell Cooperative Extension (13), the NYS IPM program (1), NE SARE (1) , the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension (2), the Maine Department of Agriculture (1) and the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project in cooperation with Tufts University (2). Our target was to train 20 educators at the workshop. At the completion of the workshop we conducted a post-survey on the effectiveness of the instruction.

Participants overwhelmingly found the workshops useful to their work as shown in table 1 below. The Participants indicated the prepared talks, educational materials and handouts were also useful. Participants stated they felt involved in the workshop and appreciated the hands-on activities.

Table 1: Usefulness of aspects of TAg Train the Trainer

Question: Mean Response*

1. Overall, the workshop was: 4.6
2. Talks Presented were: 4.5
3. Educational Materials were: 4.7
4. How involved did you feel during this workshop: 4.75
5. The workshop activities were designed: 4.0

*5=Very Useful, 1=Not Useful

Teaching Modules:

A teaching module is much like a pre-made educational curriculum for anyone who wants or needs to teach a subject. Almost seventy-five percent of workshop participants indicated that they would or might prepare teaching modules on different agricultural subjects that could be shared among educators. Fifty percent of those responding indicated "yes", 33% "maybe" and 17% responded "no" as depicted in figure 1 (see attached document with figures).

An overwhelming percentage of participants indicated that they would develop a TAg or TAg-type educational program as shown in figure 2
(see attached document with figures).

Our second big milestone was to have at least 10 educators develop and implement a TAg or TAg-type program. As a result of the workshop we had 17 programs developed. For more on these see the impact section below.

Workshop participants indicated the workshop met their expectations and would recommend the training to other colleagues (Figures 3 and 4)(see attached document with figures).

As a byproduct of SARE funding for this workshop we have developed 5 teaching modules in soybean IPM and ICM. These are: IPM for Asian Soybean Aphids, IPM for Asian Soybean Rust, IPM for Insect Pest of Soybeans, IPM for Foliar Diseases of Soybeans and ICM for Soybeans. These modules have been added to the TAg modules already available at the Northeast Region's IPM/ICM SARE teaching modules website (http://www.northeastipm.org/saremod/index.html) for professional agricultural educators use in the Northeast.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

Outcomes

We successfully reached our performance targets of training 20 agriculture educators, exceeded our goal of 10 TAg or TAg-like programs implemented as a result of the workshop participation and came in under our budget by $8,000.

As a result of the workshop training, extension educators have developed several creative TAg or TAg-like programs. The TAg programs were developed in Maine, New York, and Connecticut from 2007 to 2008. Many of the TAg programs have continued into 2009 and most likely will continue to progress and evolve over time. In 2009, participants developed 17 TAg or TAg-like programs, had 21 TAg teams and trained180 farmers/producers. Table 2 in the document attached below lists the TAg Programs that were developed by participants as a result of the TAg Train the Trainer workshop. Photos of some of the active TAg groups are also shown in the document.

Since information presented in the workshops was based on sound research-based adult educational theory and practical application of these methods participants were better able to adapt and use the workshop resources and experience in the development of locally adapted TAg program. Much of the workshop had applications to help extension educators better plan and meet local farmers’ needs through a well-designed adult agricultural education program. The past 20 years of NYS IPM TAg program implementation have shown a consistent improvement of farmers knowledge of the subjects being delivered will increase on average from about 50%-60% to 80%-90%.as measured by pre- and post-participation testing. TAg producers have also generally been shown to adopt 80% to 90% of the new practices into their farming operations

Additional Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

We organized a Tactical Agriculture (TAg) train – the – trainer workshop to introduce professional agriculture educators to the development and implementation of an innovative experiential training program designed to enhance integrated pest and crop management, understanding, use and adoption. Northeastern US extension personnel and other selected agriculture educators were invited to participate in one of two workshops offered in Albany, NY. The train the trainer workshops were held February 1-2, 2007 at the Desmond Inn in Albany, NY and February 14-15, 2008 at the Holiday Inn. A total of 20 northeast region educators participated in the workshops including: Cornell Cooperative Extension (13), the NYS IPM program (1), NE SARE (1) , the University of Connecticut Cooperative Extension (2), the Maine Department of Agriculture (1) and the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project in cooperation with Tufts University (2). Our target was to train 20 educators at the workshop. At the completion of the workshop we conducted a post-survey on the effectiveness of the instruction.

Participants overwhelmingly found the workshops useful to their work as shown in table 1 below. The Participants indicated the prepared talks, educational materials and handouts were also useful. Participants stated they felt involved in the workshop and appreciated the hands-on activities.

Table 1: Usefulness of aspects of TAg Train the Trainer

Question: Mean Response*

1. Overall, the workshop was: 4.6
2. Talks Presented were: 4.5
3. Educational Materials were: 4.7
4. How involved did you feel during this workshop: 4.75
5. The workshop activities were designed: 4.0

*5=Very Useful, 1=Not Useful

Teaching Modules:

A teaching module is much like a pre-made educational curriculum for anyone who wants or needs to teach a subject. Almost seventy-five percent of workshop participants indicated that they would or might prepare teaching modules on different agricultural subjects that could be shared among educators. Fifty percent of those responding indicated "yes", 33% "maybe" and 17% responded "no" as depicted in figure 1 (see attached document with figures).

An overwhelming percentage of participants indicated that they would develop a TAg or TAg-type educational program as shown in figure 2
(see attached document with figures).

Our second big milestone was to have at least 10 educators develop and implement a TAg or TAg-type program. As a result of the workshop we had 17 programs developed. For more on these see the impact section below.

Workshop participants indicated the workshop met their expectations and would recommend the training to other colleagues (Figures 3 and 4)(see attached document with figures).

As a byproduct of SARE funding for this workshop we have developed 5 teaching modules in soybean IPM and ICM. These are: IPM for Asian Soybean Aphids, IPM for Asian Soybean Rust, IPM for Insect Pest of Soybeans, IPM for Foliar Diseases of Soybeans and ICM for Soybeans. These modules have been added to the TAg modules already available at the Northeast Region's IPM/ICM SARE teaching modules website (http://www.northeastipm.org/saremod/index.html) for professional agricultural educators use in the Northeast.

Assessment of Project Approach and Areas of Further Study:

Potential Contributions

There is no economical analysis from this project, however, impacts of individual TAg program efforts can be found in NYS IPM Program TAg Program reports available at: http://nysipm.cornell.edu/reports/ann_rpt/default.asp

There is no specific farmer adoption data from this project, however, indications of farmer adoption as the result of individual TAg program efforts can be found in NYS IPM Program TAg Program reports available at: http://nysipm.cornell.edu/grantspgm/projects/default.asp

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.