Noxious Weed Control Through Multi-Species Grazing

Final Report for EW01-006

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2001: $64,501.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $29,149.00
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Donald D. Nelson
Washington State University
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Project Information


Conduct a 2-year regional project to build capacity in participants to develop collaborative producer programs using a systems approach to design and implement projects that integrate multi-species grazing as part of an Integrated Pest Management approach to control noxious weeds. During Year 1, 30 ag professionals and ranchers participated in a series of 4 workshops. In Year 2, participants worked on developing on-the-ground projects to implement the principles learned. This effort resulted in several of the proposed projects being implemented and/or funded. The project sponsored a regional conference and the production of a video depicting project activities and concepts.

Project Objectives:

Conduct a regional project (Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California) to build capacity in participants to develop collaborative producer programs using a holistic/systems approach that includes multi-species grazing as one tool in an Integrated Pest Management approach to control noxious weeds.

Measurable objectives include:
(1) Thirty participants will understand principles introduced in the prescribed workshop series by November 30, 2002.

(2) A minimum of 6 management/support groups made up of participants and livestock graziers (6-12 people per group) will be formed by November 30, 2002.

(3) A minimum of 6 on-the-ground projects utilizing planned grazing and/or multi-species grazing to control noxious weeds will be designed and initiated by June 30, 2003.

(4) A regional conference will be held in November 2003 to assess the impacts of this project and to extend the lessons learned to others.

(5) A video documenting the project’s activities and impacts will be produced


A noxious weed invasion is underway on the rangelands of the Western United States that is causing significant problems in the form of ecosystem damage and biodiversity loss resulting in a significant reduction in carrying capacity. It has been likened to a “biological wildfire.” Most of these weeds developed in other parts of the world and were introduced into the United States. As a result, they have no natural enemies or controls in the areas they are affecting, thus allowing them to develop extensive root systems and produce seeds without any natural resistance. In addition, most “invaders” are winter annuals, or have early growing periods that give them a head start over more desirable plants and create a situation of dominance later in the spring and summer seasons. However, weeds are not the problem, they are a symptom. The underlying cause is how the land/ecosystem is being managed. The presence of weeds is an indicator of the successional level of the site. Nature will not tolerate bare ground and will attempt to cover it with growing plants. The first plants to become established are usually dicotyledons, more commonly known as broadleaf forbs or weeds.

The expenditure of millions of dollars on control measures (e.g., chemical, fire, mechanical and biological) designed to eradicate these problem plants has not been successful. However, these measures have had negative impacts on producer’s profitability and, in some cases, have caused environmental problems (e.g., simplified plant communities, contaminated surface waters, increased erosion and sedimentation of streams). Spraying these “invaders” with herbicides is not economically feasible in most rangeland situations. Yellow star thistle and the knapweeds are two of the major weed problems on rangelands in Washington, Idaho and Oregon. One strategy for yellow star thistle control in Idaho is to spray rangeland once every three years at a cost of $30 per acre. From an economic standpoint, this won’t work on marginal rangeland that has a low carrying capacity. Another negative aspect of herbicides is that they not only kill the “invaders,” they also kill desirable broadleaf plants. This results in a decrease in biodiversity.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Rob Acheson
  • Howard Asmussen
  • Mark Bonner
  • Michael Carpinelli
  • Dan Carver
  • Cheryl Cosner
  • Robert Cosner
  • Kenneth Crane
  • Steve Crofoot
  • Todd Davis
  • Dick Diven
  • Peter Donovan
  • Dave Ellis
  • Robert Hales
  • Mark Heitstuman
  • Marty Hudson
  • Joel Huesby
  • Cynthia Huesby
  • Kevin Hupp
  • Joann Hutton
  • Roger Ingram
  • Jay Jenkins
  • Darrell Kilgore
  • Tim Kunka
  • Jim Long
  • Craig Madsen
  • Sarah Maki-Smith
  • Andrea Mann
  • Sandra Matheson
  • Jeff Nauman
  • Donald Nelson
  • Charley Orchard
  • An Peischel
  • Mark Pratt
  • Maurice Robinette
  • Demetrio Vasquez
  • Matt Voile
  • Doug Warnock
  • Tim Westfall
  • Joe Yenish

Education & Outreach Initiatives



The Principal Investigator, Donald D. Nelson, recruited other publicly and privately employed specialists to teach four workshops. Participants contributed time and other resources attending workshops, traveling to training sites, exchanging information among each other on the list-serve and applying for support to conduct future experiments.

The 30 participants lived in four states: Washington, Idaho, Oregon and California. Their occupations included livestock producers (10), University Extension (6), federal agencies (5), county weed boards (4), state resource management agencies (3), university teachers (1) and agricultural communications (1). Federal agencies represented were USDA’s Agricultural Research Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management. The mix of participants included men (25) and women (5) ranging in age from the 30s to the 50s.

During Year 1, the 30 ag professionals were introduced to selected principles of holistic decision-making, grazing planning, monitoring and the use of multi-species grazing in noxious weed control. In year 2, these principles were to be used to design and implement on-the-ground projects. The participants attended the following workshops during Year 1:
(1) Holistic Decision-Making as a framework for making management decisions was held February 26-28 in Clarkston, WA and was taught by subcontractors, Doug Warnock and Sandy Matheson of Solar$ Associates.

(2) The Land EKG workshop taught a method for monitoring the health of grazing lands. For this workshop, the participants were divided into two separate sections held on different dates at different locations so that more intense one-on-one instruction could take place. Subcontractor and developer of the Land EKG program, Charlie Orchard, taught this workshop. Section 1 was held on the Belsby Ranch near Cheney, WA on May 13-15 and Section 2 took place on the Robinette Ranch near Cheney, WA on May16-18.

(3) The Biological Planning/Planned Grazing/Multi-Species Grazing workshop presented a process that concurrently considers plant/animal performance, as well as other management considerations (i.e., haying, wildlife, etc.). It was held on August 13-15 in Spokane, WA and was taught by subcontractors Maurice Robinette and Craig Madsen of Solar$ Associates.

(4) Low Cost Cow-Calf Production is an approach to minimizing annual cow cost by coordinating the cow’s nutritional needs with the forage growth curve. Body Condition Scoring evaluates a cow’s body condition as an indication of the energy reserves she is carrying relative to her energy needs for breeding, lactation and maintenance. This workshop was held November 12-15 in Pullman, WA. Sub-contractor Dick Diven of Agri-Concepts taught the Low Cost Cow-Calf Production workshop. Body Condition Scoring (BCS) was co-taught by Donald D. Nelson and Jay Jenkins who are both WSU Extension faculty. Jay was also a Project participant.

Attendance in the 2002 workshop series was 26 for the first workshop, 21 for the second, 20 for the third and 18 for the fourth. About 55% attended all four workshops; 39% participated in three and 5% in only 2; 20% considered themselves “drop outs’ because of, for example, job re-assignments. In spite of the attrition, the mix of participants through the 2-year project remained representative of the major occupational groups identified above.

An end-of-Project conference, “Weed Management Using Multi-Species Grazing,” was conducted on November 21-22, 2003 in Clarkston, WA. An additional activity, a Planning for Profit workshop, was offered the day before the conference by subcontractors, Doug Warnock and Craig Madsen of Solar$ Associates as a supplement to the project. It focused on the Holistic Management approach to financial planning. Refer to Long’s evaluation report, Appendix II, page 34-36B for a description of the conference program and the workshop.

Outreach and Publications

(1) A list-serve was created for the Project participants and sub-contractors that resulted in a considerable amount of activity and information exchange. About 70% of the respondents regularly used the list-serve, while about 41% occasionally contributed to it.

(2) An end-of-Project conference was held in Clarkston, WA on November 21-22, 2003. Enrollment in this conference, Weed Management Using Multi-Species Grazing, was lower than anticipated, due to a winter storm accompanied by snow and ice that made traveling hazardous. Thirty-five people attended with about a third of these being SARE Project participants. Others in attendance represented livestock producers (63%), grazing consultants, a conservationist, weed board employees, Extension and federal agencies. Refer to Long’s evaluation report, Appendix I, pages 34-36A for a description of the conference program.

(3) During the November conference, a rough-cut excerpt of the documentary video, “Healing the Land through Multi-Species Grazing,” was shown. This video is currently in the final stages of production by the WSU Information Department and should be completed sometime in February. It will be available for purchase as a WSU Extension publication.

Outcomes and impacts:

Enrollment in the November 21-22, 2003, conference, Weed Management Using Multi-Species Grazing, was lower than anticipated, due to a winter storm accompanied by snow and ice that made traveling hazardous. Thirty-five people attended with about a third of these being SARE Project participants. Others in attendance represented livestock producers (63%), grazing consultants, a conservationist, weed board employees, Extension and federal agencies.

Similarly, attendance in the pre-conference workshop, Planning for Profit, was lower than expected with 15 people participating. Pre-registrants included about one-third SARE Project participants; 71% were ranchers plus state/federal agency and Extension employees.

During Year 2, Project participants were supported in designing experiments to apply concepts introduced in Year 1. Project participants and others were invited to the end-of-Project conference in November 2003 to assess impacts, share findings and suggest future directions. Throughout the Project, participants interacted through a Project list-serve.

In addition, the Solar$ Associates subcontractors contacted Project participants who were livestock producers to determine if they wanted any consulting assistance. Two ranchers accepted their offer of assistance and invited them to visit their ranches.

In brief, though the number of participants was disappointingly low, a desirable mix of participants, across occupational groups, was retained and educational activities beyond the initial set of Year 1 workshops attracted twice as many non-project pre-registrants as SARE Project pre-registrants. This was considered to be a mark of success in disseminating the idea of using multi-species grazing as a tool to manage weeds.

One of the three case experiences in the currently in-production documentary video entitled, “Healing the Earth through Multi-Species Grazing,” featured a SARE Project participant’s on-the-ground project in partnership with a local sheep producer (refer to the description of the Marty Hudson/Max Fernandez project under the “Accomplishments/New partnerships formed” section, item #2, page 7 of this report and also to Appendices III and IV).

Generally, participation on the list-serve throughout the 2-year Project was lively and valued by those who responded to the end-of-Project survey (N=17). About 70% of the respondents regularly used the list-serve, while about 41% occasionally contributed to it.

Several participants (18%) contributed to the development of a 3-year project proposal that was submitted to the SARE Research and Education program for funding. This project, Implementing Weed Control through Multi-Species Grazing, was funded in the amount of $187,935 and is in the process of being implemented. Fifty-three percent of the participants reported experimenting on their own.

In rank order, respondents noted their involvement in the following Project-related activities:

Project Activity Percent
Regularly read the Project’s list-serve 70

Experimented on their own 53

Visited with members of agricul-
tural/rural groups about the Project 47

Contacted government officials about opportunities related to the Project 41

Attended the Project’s November 200
conference 41

Occasionally contributed messages to the Project’s list-serve 41

Demonstrated results of experiment
to members of the general public 35

Contributed to writing a proposal to
fund an experiment 23

Helped design an on-the-ground experiment conducted by a group 18

A few participants reported other Project-related activities such as monitoring a range, conducting field tours for producers and agencies, speaking at a conference and distributing information to the public. To illustrate participants’ activities substantively, below are two quotes. One Federal agency employee wrote: “Facilitated the authorization of Cashmere goats on public lands for leafy spurge control within the … Coordinated Weed Management Area.” And a livestock producer said: ‘Helped put together a small research project looking at the grazing impacts of beef cattle on spotted knapweed.”

Several interesting observations appeared:
(1) Some of the participants continued a stream of Project-related activities although their individual circumstances changed through divorce, job change, relocation, etc. Networks remained active though participants’ physical location may have changed.

(2) Participants brought different orientations to the Project. Some participation was directed more toward weed management. Others focused more on the utilization of weeds as forage. Still others were more focused toward the management of animals. Yet others were more interested in the meat marketing opportunities offered by the different species.

(3) Other participants defined their interest more functionally such as an orientation toward research, convening/facilitating/teaming/networking or toward pubic information.

In short, progress toward the objective of experimenting can be attributed to individuals and, somewhat to teams, who pursued a specific interest related to the larger goal of managing for healthy lands, plants, animals and communities.

The end-of-Project survey asked participants to rate the helpfulness of each workshop in 2002 on a 3-point scale (where 3 was most helpful):

Workshop Mean Rating
Holistic Decision-Making 2.5

Land EKG 2.6

Biological/Grazing Planning 2.7

Low Cost Cow-Calf
Production/BCS 2.5

At the conclusion of the last instructional module in 2002, 17 participants ranked the importance of 5 pre-identified results of the training. Mean rankings (1 being the most important) are shown below:

Outcome Mean Ranking
Gain new knowledge 2.0

Network 2.0

Identify new resources 2.7

Raise new questions 3.3

Provide context for knowledge 3.4

In addition, some respondents identified additional value of the Project such as learning how to work fewer hours, increasing ranch productivity, helping society and helping the environment.

In short, midway into and at the end of the Project, participants rated elements of instruction and intermediate results as important, valued and helpful for their purposes, even though some participants’ purposes might have been beyond the Project objectives.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

New partnerships formed:
(1) Carl Crabtree and Ray Holes: Even though Carl and Ray were not participants in this Project, I was aware of their work in using multi-species grazing in yellow-star thistle control and their use of animal trampling in re-vegetation efforts in the Salmon River Canyon in Idaho. I made contact with them, described our project and asked if they would be willing to be featured in our documentary video and also appear on the November conference program. They agreed to both requests.

Carl Crabtree serves as Idaho County Weed Supervisor, Grangeville, Idaho. Idaho County is about the size of the state of Massachusetts and approximately 85% of that land area is federally owned. About 300,000 acres in the county are infested with yellow-star thistle. He says that Idaho County’s “claim to fame” in the weed business is that it was the beginning of the Weed Management Area (WMA) concept in Idaho. The Salmon River WMA was the first of its kind in Idaho and remains the most prominent in terms of looking at weed solutions from a holistic perspective.

Ray Holes and his wife, Marianne, own and operate Lazy H Livestock, a cow-calf and goat operation on about 27,000 acres between the Salmon and Snake Rivers near White Bird, Idaho. He is a very forward-thinking livestock operator who has excellent observation skills. He utilizes these abilities and holistic grazing planning to adapt livestock management schemes to the land he is managing. Ray conducts contract prescription grazing of weeds and brush utilizing goats in an area that goes from Weiser to Orofino, Idaho.

Ray is also a cooperator in a SARE/Ag Professional and Producer grant, Tree Regeneration in a Cut Over Area (2003-2004) that was written by Jeff Nauman while he was a participant in our Project. This project is being conducted on re-planted cut over timberland owned by the Idaho Department of Lands to determine if planned goat grazing in a young tree plantation will reduce competition from the understory for nutrients and moisture and result in a growth release for the young trees where the increased value would exceed the economic cost of treatment. When we visited the project site in June 2003 to shoot video footage, Ray had approximately 450 goats with guard dogs grazing the test site. The project design called for grazing the test site twice during 2003 and once in 2004.

Other projects that Ray had going in 2003 included: (1) Grazing 38 miles of one side of the Weiser River between an abandoned railroad right-of-way and the stream bank with 900 goats and a herder to control leafy spurge. (2) Grazing a 500-acre block of timber owned by the Nez Perce Tribe with goats to reduce the fuel load.

(2) Marty Hudson and Max Fernandez: Marty Hudson is the Coordinator of the Klickitat County Noxious Weed Control Board, Goldendale, WA and was a Project participant. Marty partnered with Max Fernandez of Centerville, WA in a cooperative effort on the Port of Klickitat-Dallesport Industrial property using sheep and goats to reduce the amount of diffuse knapweed, reduce the fire danger and improve the plant community, mineral and water cycles on the Port’s land in Dallesport, WA. Fernandez has a band of about 850 ewes, 1200 lambs and 100 goats.

According to Hudson, “By timing the grazing to when the diffuse knapweed is bolting, it should have a negative impact on the knapweed and a positive impact on other plant species.” This cooperative effort involved the Klickitat County Noxious Weed Control Board, Port of Klickitat and local sheep producer, Max Fernandez. The project lasted 30 days, grazed a total of approximately 600 acres, or about 20 acres per day, with a herder and no fences. The herder, as well as herding dogs and guard dogs were with the flock at all times. Water distribution was a challenging part of the project that was dealt with by using a portable storage tank and watering troughs that were filled periodically by a water truck owned by one of the businesses in the Industrial Park. They had to be very careful not to over graze this site, as it is fairly brittle with blow sand, low annual precipitation and a lot of summer wind.

Hudson is using the Land EKG process he learned in this Project to monitor before and after site conditions. Hudson said, “Using animal impact will reduce the use of herbicide and should also reduce the fire danger by eliminating much of the old dead fuel, which should release more plants to stay green longer in the season.” This project was a continuation of the County’s efforts to substitute biological for chemical controls. Hudson said that five biological agents are currently being used in Klickitat County for knapweed alone.

This project resulted in 2 articles in the local newspaper, The Klicktitat County Monitor (see Appendices III and IV for copies of these articles).

Project proposals developed and/or funded:
(1) Jeff Nauman, Senior Resource Coordinator, Idaho Department of Lands and a Project participant developed a grant proposal that he submitted to the SARE Ag Professional/Producer Program for funding. The proposal was entitled, AJKyles’s Youth Entrepreneurs. It proposed the development of a model for small-scale youth entrepreneurship through the establishment of a grass-finished meat business managed and operated by young adults. It involved using horses, beef cattle and either sheep or goat grazing to control yellow star thistle and various brush species. This project was not funded.

(2) Jeff Nauman also developed a second grant proposal entitled, Tree Regeneration in a Cut Over Area (2003-2004) that he submitted to the SARE Ag Professional/Producer program. This project proposed goat grazing in a young tree plantation to see if the reduction of competition from the understory for nutrients/moisture would result in a growth release exceeding the economic cost of treatment. This project was funded. Refer to Item #1 in the “New partnerships formed” section, page 6-7 for a more detailed description.

(3) Jeff Nauman also developed a third project proposal that would study the effects on browsing vs. a timber under-burn in controlling brush populations. This project was not funded.

Note: All 3 of Nauman’s projects included both control and impacted areas for comparison and all three had beef cattle grazing as a follow-up treatment to maintain the plant community(ies) established.

(4) Marty Hudson, Coordinator, Klickitat County Noxious Weed Control Board and a Project participant put together a cooperative project that used sheep and goat grazing as a tool on Port of Klickitat-Dallesport Industrial Park land to control diffuse knapweed and reduce fuel loads. Refer to Item #2 in the “New partnerships formed” section, page 7 for a more detailed description.

(5) Roger Ingram, Livestock and Natural Resources Farm Advisor, University of California Cooperative Extension, Auburn, CA and a Project participant along with An Peischel, Goats Unlimited, who was a Project sub-contractor, put on the California Browsing Academy on September 12-14, 2003 in Brown’s Valley, CA. Roger had been conducting a Grazing Academy for several years using beef cattle prior to becoming a participant in this Project. Our Project inspired him to put together an academy based on browsing with goats, rather than grazing with cattle.

One challenge that Roger ran up against with the Browsing Academy was the lack published methods to measure/monitor browsing use of shrubs and trees. He stated this in his presentation during the November Project conference. In the audience was Chuck Perry, Rangelands Northwest, Moses Lake, WA and a retired Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Biologist (WDFW). Chuck told Roger that he had also struggled with this same problem some years ago relative to deer and cow browsing along shrub/tree dominated riparian zones. Chuck and other WDFW personnel developed a simple method that seemed to produce the required information that was fairly easy to use in the field and produced repeatable information. Chuck told Roger he would send him the information following the conference, which he did (refer to Appendix V for the information that Chuck sent to Roger). This is a good example of the power of networking and the collective wisdom of a group of people with multiple perspectives coming together around a shared vision.

(6) Andrea Mann, a Project participant who is currently the Coordinator of the Big Bend Resource Conservation District, Ephrata, WA and was formerly (during Year 1 of this Project) Wetland Specialist with the NRCS, worked collaboratively with several other Project participants and a sub-contractors to write a 3-year (2004-2006) project proposal that was submitted to the SARE Research and Education program for funding. This project entitled, Implementing Weed Control through Multi-Species Grazing, was funded in the amount of $187,935. The Project participant/subcontractor collaborators in this project include: Andrea Mann (participant), Michael Carpinelli (participant), An Peischel (sub-contractor), Craig Madsen (sub-contractor) and Donald D. Nelson (principal investigator). This project will implement on-the-ground projects on the Barker Ranch in West Richland, WA and the Hercules Ranch in Sprague, WA to evaluate the use of multi-species grazing (i.e., goats, sheep and cattle) as a tool in an Integrated Pest Management program to control invasive plants.

(7) Dave Ellis, a Project participant and owner/operator of the Beaverhead Peaks Ranch LLC, Salmon, ID and Shannon Williams, Lemhi County Extension Agent, Salmon, ID collaboratively developed a project proposal entitled, Development of Healthier Plant Communities through Multi-Species Grazing, for submission to the WSARE Competitive Grants program for funding. Unfortunately they missed the submission deadline for 2002 and I suggested that they plan on submitting it in 2003. I do not know whether or not they did this.
The principle goal of this project was to develop a collaborative management group of local people, both professional and private that would apply the principles of Holistic Management in planning the grazing of cattle and goats together with the objective of reducing the spread of invasive plant species and increasing biodiversity and economic return.


Potential Contributions

(1) Generated more interest and visibility in the use of multi-species grazing as a tool in an Integrated Pest Management program to control invasive plants.

(2) Shifted the belief held by some Project participants that “noxious weeds” are a liability to a belief that many of these plants can be converted to a marketable product through grazing by the appropriate species. Also that “weeds” are not the problem, but are a symptom of the previous management of the site.

(3) Resulted in the development of several on-the-ground projects such as the 3-year project, Implementing Weed Control through Multi-Species Grazing (2004-2006) funded by SARE Research and Education program in the amount of $187,935, (refer to item #6 under the “Accomplishments/Project proposals developed and/or funded” section on page 9 for a more complete description).

(4) Encouraged Project participants and conference attendees to investigate the possible development of enterprise mixes that integrate multi-species (i.e., cattle, sheep and goats) to take advantage of the different grazing preferences, marketing opportunities and potential for range improvement all of which could improve overall profitability.

Future Recommendations

Recommendations from participants:
(1) Add new content such as:
(a) soil health
(b) roles of insects as part of an Integrated Pest Management Program
(c) relationships between grazing/browsing and beneficial insects
(d) plant identification
(e) goat husbandry,
(f) fencing
(g) livestock handling
(h) body condition scoring for species other than cattle
(i) use of guard animals
(j) marketing, particularly with ethnic communities
(k) research design and methods
(l) organizational development and change
(m) designing a public information campaign.

(2) Place grazing within the context of other plant management tools (e.g., fire, herbicides, cultivation, rouging, insects, diseases).

(3) Emphasize Holistic Management more, or less.

(4) Continue certain tools, such as the list-serve, for learning and networking.

(5) Sponsor regular reunions for review and renewal. Could some be conducted electronically?

(6) Follow experiments; conduct tours of experiments among participants and others; summarize and publish findings; apply findings.

(7) Offer grant writing assistance.

Other recommendations emerged from the Project evaluation as related to the weak link (i.e., broad, persistent participation):
(1) Recruiting and selecting participants: Ask employee applicants to seek written endorsement of the Project and their participation from their supervisors. Ask the employee’s supervisor to articulate a Project goal that is important to the supervisor, employee and the employer’s constituency. Specify a contingency plan in case of personnel changes (i.e., Can a substitute be designated?). Clarify applicant’s role in the agency such as a planner role, an administrative role, a technician role and illustrate how instruction can be adapted to their decisions. Such an agreement within an agency might serve as a starting point for contracting with the Project for instruction and experimentation.

(2) Team building: From the day 1, start building teams. Acknowledge participant’s orientations across professions and the time and trust required to design comprehensive on-the-ground trials. Teams might include, for instance, a land manager, a forage specialist, an animal scientist, a researcher, a marketing specialist, a public outreach person and a facilitator. Reserve times to outline experiments conducted within a set of contextual variables such as climate, land, plants, animals, organizations and markets. Recognize that some teams may work as a team while other teams might advise individuals.

(3) Role of intinerate advisors: Continue to offer one-on-one consultations with individuals and teams; build on experiences of Solar$ Associates; perhaps emphasize experimental design, implementation, monitoring, ways to translate findings, how to generalize beyond a trial, how to disseminate findings to policy makers and members of the public, how to generate support for finer and finer experiments. Continue contracts whereby Solar$ Associates consult with teams/individuals designing experiments.

(4) Retaining what is, or might become, important: Midway through the Project, “to provide a context for knowledge” was rated low in importance. Yet, some participants remarked later about the importance of the Project’s enabling them to do just that. For instance, shifting from an orientation on “weed control” to “creating desirable plant communities” or shifting from “time management” to a decision-making framework for a family to define member roles. So, even though at one time in the succession of the Project activities a purpose may not seem obvious or important, programmers might want to retain that objective because individual participants may hold that purpose as important or may come to appreciate its importance later.

(5) Time, timing and use of time: One year of instruction and one year for group demonstration projects proved to be too brief for most participants. An alternative is to infuse a year of instruction about principles with more guidance on designing a field experiment, teaming across disciplines and adapting an experiment to a given environmental and organizational context important to team members. That context would likely consider a whole host of variables such as the natural environment, market demands, business factors, personnel policies, contract terms, fiscal arrangements, organizational climate and political realities. All those variables that participants in 2003 identified as forces for, and forces against, progress toward their goals for having enrolled in the Project. Then allow at least an additional year for field demonstrations.

Use workshop time to bridge from “principles” to “practices.” Schedule time to plan experiments as teams and schedule reports about team and individual experiments at subsequent workshops. At the end of a workshop, assess participants’ beliefs and levels of knowledge about the upcoming workshop topic and use these assessments to fine-tune the next workshop.

To capitalize on the time between workshops, consider more deliberate use of the list-serve to nurture experimentation. Consider using conference calls or videoconferences for sharing and coaching and to prepare summaries for upcoming face-to-face workshops.

Place this education program within the context of social change models. For instance, recognize the time required to diffuse innovation among innovators, early adopters, the early majority and the late majority. Recognize the time required to facilitate folks through a process of awareness, interest, mental evaluation, trial and decision.

Consider teaching backwards. Start with data about market opportunities, available animals, sources of forages, weeds as a forage, etc. Then introduce a framework to handle the complexities of integrating all of these elements, specifically Holistic Management, overview principles to consider in discovering empirical relationships and experimental design. Then reflect systematically on the findings.

(6) Project marketing: Market this Project to others such as, persons interested in weed control, forage production, re-forestation, fuel reduction, riparian management, right of ways, mine site rehabilitation, minimum tillage, vegetation management to minimize insect borne diseases, animal production, marketing; those interested in university extension, professional development, agency policy development and administration, public decision-making; and those who communicate technical information to the general public. The documentary video will likely become a useful tool, as well as on-farm trial, case studies, tours, demonstrations, short courses being planned by Extension faculty and others.

The project evaluator, Jim Long of NUView Evaluation and Learning, also suggested other opportunities related to instructional and organizational development (refer to Long’s evaluation report, Appendix II, pages 16-17):
(1) The nature of educational objectives and educational evaluation: Four of the five Project objectives were oriented toward “activities” (i.e., form management/support groups, conduct experiments, offer a conference and produce a documentary video). The first objective, “participants learn principles,” seemed more appropriate for an educational project. Activity oriented “objectives” can be adapted by asking why the programmer intends to do these activities. Why, for example, form a group, particularly since many more individuals experimented on their own. Why produce a video? The objective might be re-stated as “so others understand the values of multi-species grazing.” Being clear about the video’s purpose (e.g., whose understanding is to be affected) may help design the video itself. Is the video intended for persons trying to evaluate biological vs. chemical control of weeds? Or, is the video for managers who implement a given grazing regime?

Evaluation data-gathering instruments used in this assessment (i.e., Claude Bennett’s Hierarchy of Evaluation Evidences) to estimate change in knowledge and attitudes might serve other, similar professional development projects, but should be validated and further adapted to catch results of individual’s experiential learning, noting particularly individuals’ unique orientations toward their involvement.

(2) Scope and context of instructional content: Continue to introduce supplementary ideas, information and frameworks that reinforce instructional objectives, the work (e.g., Bud Williams on low-stress animal handling techniques; Fred Provenza and the BEHAVE project that is a consortium for the application of animal behavior principles in management; Donald Schon’s emphasis on “research in-action and “reflection in-action” as discussed in his book, The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action); others’ research on “learning organizations,” systems thinking and social marketing (e.g., Malcolm Gladwell’s book, The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference). Participants found these ideas intriguing.

(3) Institutional development: Link this educational experiment with the large question among land-grant universities about their “synthesis” role, in addition to their recognized roles of research, teaching and Extension (Don Bushaw, “The Scholarship of Extension,” Journal of Extension, August 1996). The dynamics of integrating knowledge, so vividly demonstrated in this SARE project, are qualitatively different from traditional conceptions of land-grant university roles of generating knowledge, teaching and extending knowledge. This Project illustrates the dynamics of building capacities for participatory research, collaborative learning, reflection-action (praxis), building learning organizations, systems thinking and stakeholder involvement in public decision-making. True to an underlying premise of Holistic Management, this SARE Project can contribute to creating responsive public institutions, including the land-grant university.

The last session during the November 21-22 Conference was a participatory session open to conference attendees to provide input on “Where We Go From Here?” (refer to Appendix VI for the complete report of this session). The 11 people who participated in this session represented both Project and non-Project participants. The following are the participant responses to the questions noted:

Question: “What are the best possible outcomes if we carry this multi-species grazing effort forward?”

Responses (unedited):
(1) “We have re-energized rural communities with products produced by family farms that produce from the paradigm that urban people are willing to purchase farm products at profitable prices.”
(2) “WSU researchers and teachers pay attention to Michael and Klickitat studies.”
(3) “People get over the 'cannot do this' mindset and learn from their mistakes and use resources.”
(4) “We see ecosystem significantly improving in health and productivity as a result of land managers making better application of the tools that are available.”
(5) “If the stewards of the natural resources are rewarded for clean water and for optimizing ecosystem processes by production practices.”
(6) “Holistic Management decision-making becomes widespread.”
(7) “School-aged children choose to become land stewards.”
(8) “Message delivered, received and applied.”
(9) “We will teach and help producers find better ways to protect environment, their way of life and make a profit. Profit (wealth) isn’t always dollars.”

Question: “What strategies and actions will foster the best possible outcomes?”

Responses (unedited):
(1) “Outreach to as many diverse groups as possible through presentations, project video, etc.”
(2) “Create opportunities to seek recommendations from those in other regions, rather than telling other people what to do.”
(3) “Continue to promote projects underway and lead by example.”
(4) “Create networks, not only to share information, but to apply what we have learned and create learning opportunities.”
(5) “Complete present projects, stimulate new projects and facilitate the continued learning and exchange of information.”
(6) “Learn to value and listen to people. Work for win/win situations.”
(7) “Invite WSU faculty to project field days just prior to annual conferences and then invite them to annual conference.”
(8) “Hold Holistic Management conference series on the west side of Washington; invite consumers, agencies, educators, etc. to impact their outlook, attitude and perspective.”
(9)”Show by example.”
(10) “Make a chore look like fun.”
(11) “Eliminate fear of the unknown through knowledge; build trust and relationships.”
(12) “Involve younger generation in educational opportunities.”

In summary, participants' reflections about this SARE Project in 2002-2003 suggest possible refinements to consider in replicating such a concentrated, intricate professional development endeavor. The experience also suggests broad implications for programs that facilitate adult learning and for public institutions that support adult learning programs.

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.