Equipping Extension Educators to Address Producer Needs in Energy Education

Final Report for EW10-012

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2010: $99,596.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2012
Region: Western
State: Wyoming
Principal Investigator:
Sarah Hamlen
MSU Extension
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Project Information

Abstract:

The profitability and sustainability of agricultural operations directly links to the consumption and production of energy. Energy is relevant to sustainability of agricultural lands as energy efficiency impacts production costs profitability, and agricultural producers have the capacity to generate energy through growing biomass, creating biofuels, or from small on-farm generation. Decisions made on energy issues have long-term implications for the sustainability of agricultural production.

This project developed energy education resources targeted at meeting the needs of agricultural producer educators through web-based tools, energy training, and educational tool kits. The resources help educators provide information on energy such that producers can understand and evaluate energy opportunities.

Project Objectives:
Redacted From the Grant Proposal

(Redacted from Original Grant Proposal)
The output objectives for this project fall into two categories: 1) direct educator training and materials and 2) indirect training and materials that can be accessed by agricultural producers, Extension Agents and other agency personnel.

Audience A: Direct Educator Training
Product a: Curriculum
Product b: Intranet Tools
Product c: Training

Audience B: Indirect Educator Training
Product d: Material Development
Product e: Development of Tool Kits

Outcomes
Outcomes for this project are as follows:
1. Educators will increase training and educational outreach to agricultural producers.
2. Educators will establish networks for energy education between Western SARE states.
3. Producers and educators will be able to more easily access unbiased, research-based information.
4. Producers will apply the available information in their decision-making processes.
5. Producers will understand that their local issues may not be they driving factors in their energy development plans.
6. Evaluations will indicate that the materials and resources available are relevant to meeting producer decision-making needs.

Introduction:
Professional Development of Producer Educators

The attached logic model (provided in the original grant application) outlines the process utilized to develop this project. While most long term outcomes focus on producer decision-making, the inputs and outputs phases of the project centered on engagement of field faculty in Extension and other producer-educator agencies.

The original proposal included several assumptions. Key among those assumptions were:
? There were many resources for teaching energy. The project would leverage those resources and only develop new resources where it was necessary to supplement the existing materials.
? Faculty were prepared to teach energy but lacked capacity in tools and training.
? The project would progress quickly from identifying teaching materials, to training, to outreach with producers.

Per the grant proposal, the project development process began with a needs assessment of Extension faculty in WSARE states/territories in May 2010. WSARE staff approved the survey instrument prior to data collection. (Please see attached Needs Assessment summary.) Two hundred and thirty-three (233) Extension educators in 11 states/territories completed the needs assessment. Faculty with primary appointments in agriculture comprised 67.2% of respondents, and another 33% indicated multi-disciplinary responsibilities that included agriculture. This survey initially met the project coordinators expectations. However, as materials and trainings were developed and pilot tested a few areas of this survey came to have great significance. Those areas included:

? When asked how often they receive requests for energy information, 65% indicated “infrequent or sporadic” requests.

This was consistent with a survey conducted by the Western Extension Director’s Association (WEDA) Energy 2008 Survey of 443 Extension constituents in 13 Western States found that 72% of respondents perceived that Extension provides “some or very little” assistance in energy-related issues. A February 2009 WEDA report of energy-related programs and outreach in Western Extension systems indicated that implementation of energy programming was sporadic and, where implemented, did not tend to include Extension field faculty educators in renewable energy outreach. Instead, researchers or state-level experts performed outreach.

? Respondents indicated the usefulness of existing materials in addressing energy questions. With the exception of biofuels, existing resources predominantly were identified as “not at all useful” and few consistent sources of information were cited as being utilized by faculty.

? The survey asked respondents to prioritize energy topic areas. No priorities emerged. All energy areas were identified as immediate needs.

? A question in the survey asked faculty to identify the level of training they felt they would need to teach energy. Sixty-seven percent indicated that with teaching resources and minimal training, they would be prepared to teach.

Following the needs assessment, the two project coordinators, Sarah Hamlen (MT) and Milton Geiger (WY) began assembling materials and providing basic energy trainings to faculty. Informal qualitative assessments of these trainings were conducted. Faculty consistently identified a need for greater depth in the trainings. Two significant trainings were held to address the demand for greater depth of resources.

In Montana, Sarah Hamlen developed a multi-part educational curriculum series on small wind technologies for faculty. This curriculum provided PowerPoint presentations, systematic teaching instructions, options for hands-on activities and supplemental web resources. This material was developed using a small focus group of MT faculty and was guided by Extension curriculum development expert, Shannon Arnold. (Please see attached sample of the “Getting Started” facilitator guide, which was one of four guides in the series). The curriculum was pilot tested during Extension Annual Conference on Oct. 19, 2010 (agenda attached). Hamlen planned to launch the small wind unit and then replicate the format for other energy technologies. The participant evaluation (attached) indicated that participants appreciated the information, but were not interested in teaching the material. The comments provided on the evaluation were emphasized in follow-up conversations with faculty. One faculty member summarized the response of the group by stating, “This is exactly the level of detail I feel I need to provide to producers in small wind, but I will never teach this. The training made me aware of how little I know in energy and I would be uncomfortable teaching this because I only know what is on the script.”

Wyoming Extension Energy Coordinator, Milton Geiger, piloted a different approach. University of Wyoming Extension funded a three-day Solar Energy International (SEI) training during the WY 2010 EPIC Conference. This training was a direct response to Extension faculty requests for in-depth, technical training on a variety of renewable energy topics. The training also included members of WY Resource Conservation and Development Districts and NRCS personnel. SEI is recognized as a world-class trainer in renewable energy. However, the training frustrated participants. Despite demands for in-depth technical training, most participants were overwhelmed by the content. Those with energy background were very impressed with the training, but those new to energy (the majority of the attendees) disengaged within the first day.

Following these pilot trainings, the project coordinators recognized that some of the assumptions of the initial project proposal were inaccurate. First, it was assumed that educators were not engaging in energy education simply because they lacked materials and teaching tools. However, when different teaching materials and training methods were piloted, faculty did not engage in outreach efforts. Second, during the trainings it became apparent that the ability of educators to prioritize needs linked directly to their level of understanding of renewable energy. The project coordinators began to understand that the response to question of “what is needed to teach energy” was analogous to asking someone versed in food preservation to identify the priorities and teaching materials needed for Extension to teach pesticide application. Extension faculty rarely have background in energy and therefore were not able to articulate or accurately identify specific needs. Likewise, preferences in teaching methods were not clear as Extension faculty had no/limited experience in teaching energy. Third, the pilot work emphasized that educators were not prepared to teach in-depth content in energy with minimal training. Multiple learning opportunities and interventions would be necessary to build knowledge and comfort in teaching energy. New strategies would be required to make the work in this project successful.

Sarah Hamlen engaged in a thorough literature review and research based project with MT, WY, and CO Extension faculty to understand these dynamics. The research was not funded by WSARE. The Montana State University Internal Review Board approved the survey instrument used in the research. A copy of the research is attached. The research utilized the Stages of Concern Questionnaire which is a well-normed and valid research instrument designed to identify barriers to change in educational institutions. Key to understanding the dynamics as they pertain to this project were that 81% of the statistically significant sample engaged in fewer than 20 hours per year of all types of energy education and 97% engaged in fewer than 50 hours per year of energy education. Qualitative follow up found that (with few exceptions) those reporting engagement in energy were not teaching – the time dedication was in hosted workshops, where educators were arranging events and bringing in guest speakers. Further, the research found that despite pilot projects and emphasis in the need to teach energy from Extension administration in these states (beginning in 2007-2008), 99% of faculty exhibited no awareness of what they were supposed to teach. This research and the pilot activities helped the project coordinators understand the need to re-direct. Long-term outcomes anticipated in the project logic model could only be realized if the project engaged educators and provided opportunities to engage in energy outreach that were comfortable for educators.

The project coordinators recognized that the project needed to accomplish incremental increases in teaching energy. Educators were largely at the non-use stage, which is defined by Hall and Hord as the stage at which a user has no awareness of an expected change and is not actively taking steps to become engaged. This project needed to move educators from the non-use stage to higher levels of engagement – but also recognize that the progression to the state of actively teaching and engaging with producers would require time and multiple learning interventions.

Three key elements were identified as necessary to engaging Extension faculty in teaching energy.
1. Easy to Use: A standardized curriculum must be developed and faculty must be able to quickly reference topics within each technology. Pilot testing showed that using a variety of materials added stress and confusion for those trying to learn and teach the subjects.
2. Scalable: The curriculum and training must accommodate a variety of levels of energy knowledge.
3. Easy to Incorporate: The project needed to emphasize incremental increases in energy education engagement within existing programming areas. With current budget restrictions in each state, hiring new faculty with background was not feasible. Strategies needed to allow energy to be incorporated within the existing educational infrastructure.

The project coordinators determined that this project would need to add a measure of impact to the project: evaluation of the extent to which Extension faculty began actively teaching energy concepts.

The project also was refined to focus only on small renewable energy technologies. Commercial development (large scale wind/solar farms, transmission issues, etc.) education require faculty to address a variety of issues – from the technical nuances of project development, to environmental issues, to geopolitical concerns and understanding energy markets. Over time, this is an important role for faculty. The coordinators determined that the project would be most successful if it were able to engage faculty in small technology education, and progress to more complex energy issues.

Using the research information, the project coordinators selected writers for nine topics in energy. The writers were asked to use a step-by-step approach to designing the content that would allow educators and producers to quickly access information, but could also be used to incrementally increase knowledge and skill in a subject. The coordinators assembled a “WSARE Issue Team” of Extension faculty from MT and WY. The team was comprised of 12 Extension faculty members and specialists from MT and WY. Team members not only helped to design and critique content development, but also reviewed all materials (over 80 fact sheets) to ensure that they were appropriate for producer education purposes. Some producers were contacted by team members in the review process. The team was active from December 2010 to August 2011. Further discussion of the educational methods is provided later in this report.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Milton Geiger
  • Sarah Hamlen

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Objective:
Description:

Methods

The following methods were utilized to develop the Direct Educator training resources described in the grant:

Product a: Curriculum
As discussed in the Introduction, the research and pilot testing of training resources yielded that the materials 1) easy to use, 2) scalable, and 3) easy to incorporate into existing educational work. These principles were the foundation for all resources developed in the project.

The curriculum was initially divided into nine subject areas: home energy efficiency, farm energy efficiency, general principles in renewable energy, small wind, solar hot water, PV, micro-hydro electric, biodiesel, and anaerobic digestion. A technical writer was assigned to each area and parameters for structuring the content (per the recommendations of the WSARE Issue Team) were provided. Authors drafted content and sent their materials to a minimum of three technical reviewers. Following technical review, the materials were reviewed by the WSARE Issue Team members. The dual review process ensured that the materials were not only technically accurate, but that they met the needs of producers and producer educators. All materials were also reviewed by the project coordinators. The same process was used in the development of the Heating with Wood and Energy Efficiency for Mobile Homes folders and fact sheets. The curriculum now includes over 100 fact sheets and 11 subject-matter folders.

The materials were printed and enclosed in a subject-specific folder to make it easy for faculty to reference each topic. In addition, a systematic ascension through the materials was used for most subjects to allow for easy navigation of the resources. A critical element of the curriculum was provided in the User Guide Supplement. The guide provides at least two (one 15-minute, and one 30-minute) lesson plans for each subject. These lessons make it easy for educators to assemble an educational intervention using the fact sheets and online resources. The curriculum is also scalable. Educators may opt to expand by teaching workshops using PowerPoint resources. For each subject in the curriculum, presentation materials (with full notes) are provided in a password-protected area of the project website entitled, “Tools for Teachers.” Educators may also view recorded webinars on each presentation where they can hear a subject matter expert deliver the content prior to presenting themselves. A video summarizing the curriculum and its resources can be viewed on the project website.

For those interested in hosting a workshop, the guide provides Guest Speaker Confirmation forms, which educators can use to guide the content of guest speakers. Video resources supplement educator-teaching initiatives for many subjects in the curriculum. The guide also provides press release samples, evaluation tools, and other supplements. Complete toolkits have been provided to WSARE as part of this report.

Product b: Intranet Tools
The E3A website (www.e3a4u.info) provides free access to all fact sheets and informational links. This information can be downloaded by producers and educators alike. Those wishing for printed materials can order glossy versions of the fact sheets from the website as well.

Educators have access to “Tools for Teachers.” Anyone who has been through training on use of the materials receives a password that allows access to downloadable PowerPoint presentations, supplemental resources, and an educator “chat” forum that allows for exchange of ideas and information on teaching with E3A.

Late in the project, the coordinators determined that new elements should be added to the site to make it more dynamic and to engage new audiences in the online energy resources. An updated site was launched in January 2013 that includes news briefs, podcasts with both video and audio content, notice of webinars, and updates. This venue allows more educators to engage in exchanging information and ensures that the site is kept current and dynamic over time.

Product c: Training
Two types of training have been conducted in this project: train-the-trainer and direct-to-producer.

Train-the-Trainer Methods
Five methods of train-the-trainer education for audiences have been utilized in this project. One hundred and seventy-eight (178) individuals have been trained to teach energy with E3A. These trainings (see attached list) are only those provided to educators following the product launch of E3A. Pilot tests of various other educational methods and materials are not included in this list.

1. MT MSU Extension Method: MSU Extension opted to train faculty in E3A by emphasizing quick and easy methods for incorporating energy work into existing programming (adding energy outreach to a field tour or cropping seminar, adding a workshop on energy to winter ag series conferences, etc.). Small group trainings were held in five locations in Montana (training list attached). In these trainings, 55.6% of MT field faculty were trained in E3A and 69.3% of those trained have implemented energy education subsequent to the training, which is 37.8% of total field faculty.
2. MT NRCS Training Method: Seventeen NRCS personnel began training in energy at the WSARE Agricultural Renewable Energy Seminar in Bozeman on Nov. 29-30, 2011. The team leaders for energy in US NRCS collaborated with MSU Extension to deliver the training. Montana NRCS Energy Program Leader, Thomas Pick, reinforced this training by conducting trainings in 22 field offices in Montana. Each field office was asked to utilize E3A materials as a discussion and teaching point in at least one of their field office staff meetings in 2012. Field offices will be applying the information directly in cooperation with MSU Extension during a pilot agricultural energy audit project in 2013.
3. University of WY Extension Training Method: With UW Extension administration support, ten field educators were selected for a two-day training in spring 2012. The intensive training focused on developing a niche for energy education, similar to the MT MSU Extension Method. The educators were assigned to regional teams, with 2-3 educators per region. The teams were charged to lead self-directed trainings for potential regional partners, such as Conservation Districts and NRCS. The training received wide-acclaim from attendees, with a 4.5 rating on a five point scale. Eight field educators have led subsequent independent energy trainings.
4. NM Extension Training Method: Director of NM State Extension, Jon Boren, hosted training in collaboration with the NM State Range and Livestock Research Center in Corona, NM. Participants were introduced the E3A materials and engaged in teaching practicum sessions on renewable energy subjects. This event was the launch of energy education in Extension for NM, where only one participant indicated any prior work in energy at the time of the training. Director Boren has followed up on this training by conducting in-depth training for 22 faculty members on solar stock watering systems. He has also collaborated with research faculty to produce an intensive set of resources on solar watering systems. NM Extension recently identified an energy leader, Peter Skelton, who is responsible for guiding faculty in further implementation in energy within NMSUE.
5. Multi-State Training Model: Two separate training events were conducted for states interested in incorporating E3A into their Extension energy work. These training sessions not only introduced the materials and teaching practicums, but also included planning sessions with regard to how E3A might be adapted and included in other state Extension outreach programs. In the first training, nine of the 11 states committed to including E3A in their state work. In the second training, all nine participating states indicated interest in adapting E3A.
6. Demonstration Models: To better allow educators to engage with the material, demonstration tools were developed in MT and WY for use by educators. A renewable energy trailer was re-designed in WY to enable faculty to teach concepts of small wind, solar PV, solar stock water, and geothermal heat pump technologies. In MT, a series of energy efficiency teaching trunks were developed focusing on home and renewable energy topics (lighting, insulation, storm windows, solar hot water systems, etc. See attached lighting lab documents). Educators have gravitated to these teaching tools and have incorporated them into program offerings.

Monthly webinars were also conducted throughout 2012 to aid educators in using the E3A resources (see attached schedule of webinars). Recorded webinars are provided at www.e3a4u.info.

Outreach and Publications

The E3A toolkit contains over 100 fact sheets plus lesson plans and supplemental materials. Hard copies of materials have been submitted to WSARE. Most fact sheets and resources can also be found online at www.e3a4u.info. Topics included in the toolkit include:

– Home Energy Efficiency
– Farm Energy Efficiency
– Small Wind
– Solar Photovoltaic
– Solar Hot Water
– Anaerobic Digestion
– Microhydro Electric
– Biodiesel
– User Guide including basic energy fact sheets
– Mobile Home Energy Efficiency
– Heating with Wood
– User Guide Supplement (lesson plans, press tools, etc.)

Educational events:
Educational events in this project were conducted in two categories – train the trainer, and direct to consumer. Sample evaluation results for both types of training are captured in the attachments. A sampling of evaluation results is provided as since the project launch (Nov. 28, 2011) the Extension educators have conducted direct to consumer workshops including: 40 events with 1,217 direct contacts in Montana. Eight Wyoming field educators have offered independent programming to agricultural producers. Events focused on small acreage, sustainability, local foods, and agricultural expos have included E3A energy programming. Specific topics include a general overview of renewable energy options, solar-powered livestock watering, small hydropower, and farmstead energy. Educators are also offering informal renewable energy assessments for producers using feasibility tools highlighted in the curriculum. Field educators have conducted trainings ranging from technical workshops on subjects, such as solar stock watering and small hydropower, to demonstration events using teaching trailers or toolkits developed in conjunction with this project. Educators have also provided input into a general discussion of energy literacy, such as where our energy originates or how to read a utility bill.

Train-the-trainer workshops have been held in MT, WY, and NM – with Extension personnel in 11 additional states receiving training as well. In MT, 55.6% of faculty have been trained in teaching E3A. WY trained 18.8% of extended-term educators, and 7.4% of faculty in NM were trained. MT NRCS trained their field office personnel in E3A as well.

Outcomes and impacts:

Outcomes for this project are as follows:
1. Educators will increase training and educational outreach to agricultural producers.
Baseline measure: Research conducted in 2011 indicated that 81% of the faculty in MT and WY dedicated fewer than 20 hours per year to energy education. Of those reporting activity, almost no direct teaching was reported. In MT and WY, 42% of faculty reported zero (0) hours of energy teaching.

Measures of Success: From Jan. 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012, Montana State University Extension had 3,910 hours of direct teaching contacts with 796 individuals. Nineteen (19) field faculty educators (37.8% of those trained in E3A) actively engaged in teaching energy. Samples of evaluations from those educational interventions are attached. Educational interventions were measured using both formal assessment (pre/post) evaluation tools and informal qualitative assessments. Formal assessments showed consistent knowledge gain improvements. Average knowledge gain (for a series that had 164 client contacts) on a 5 point Likert scale increased from 1.3 (Low) levels of understandings about E3A topics to an average of 3.65 (Moderate). For a series including 60 client contacts, average knowledge increased by 3 points. For smaller interventions (class sizes of 2-20), knowledge gain consistently increased by an average of 2.5 points on a 5 point Likert scale. Samples of evaluation data are provided.

Although measured differently than MSU, eight out of ten trained field educators offered energy programming. The educators noted a personal increase in energy knowledge from 2.4 to 3.9 on a 5 point Likert scale. They also noted an increased willingness, as shown by subsequent programming, to teach energy knowledge. As a representative example, at a Rural Living Workshop participants noted an increase in energy knowledge from 2.14 to 4.0 on the same scale. Workshop feedback indicates a consistent gain in energy understanding.

2. Educators will establish networks for energy education between Western SARE states.
Multi-state collaboration has occurred at a very high level in this project. Materials in the E3A curriculum were developed by Colorado State University, University of Wyoming, Montana State University, and North Dakota State University. The WSARE Issue Team that aided in the curriculum design and review for the original materials was comprised of faculty from MT and WY. Extensive collaboration between MT and WY continues as resources are developed and shared between states constantly.

Beyond those states engaged in the initial development of this curriculum, 18 additional states have asked to engage in the E3A project. While 90+% of the information is applicable to all states, the curriculum was designed for MT and WY educators. The interested states would like to adapt the existing materials to meet needs in their states. Therefore, MT and WY are developing a licensing agreement that would allow for the sharing and adaptation of the resources in multiple states. As new states participate in the E3A project, new expertise and resources are reciprocally provided to educators and producers in WSARE states.

3. Producers and educators will be able to more easily access unbiased, research-based information.
A measure of educator access to E3A can be seen in the fact that 40% of total Extension field faculty in MT and WY have been trained in use of the curriculum. Producer access to the information can be measured via web traffic. From Nov. 29, 2011 to January 1, 2013, 3,549 individuals accessed information from the project website. However, the site was not advertised or promoted to the public (the focus was only on educators.). To better provide access to resources in E3A, the website was redesigned to increase access to direct-to-public resources in January 2013.

4. Producers will apply the available information in their decision-making processes.
In quantitative evaluations, participants indicated the extent to which E3A programming influence their decisions to implement changes in energy practices was 3.72 (on a 5-point scale where 5 is Extreme Influence).

Examples of qualitative short-term impacts include the following statements from participants and/or Extension educators:
? From a participant in a small wind for farms and ranches workshop: The information was exactly what I needed to make a decision about small wind power installation on my farm. I have decided to pursue energy efficiency first and then investigate solar PV.
? From an Extension educator following a farm energy workshop: Producer Z increased his knowledge of geo-thermal technology and his investigations were catalyzed by follow up discussions with him. He is progressing with changing the way he heats his shop.
? From an Extension educator following a farm energy workshop: Producer B increased his knowledge of irrigation energy efficiency based upon the workshop for a short term impact, and is currently working with an engineer and an irrigation company to redesign his system and implement his new knowledge about variable rate drives for increased efficiency.
? From an Extension educator following a demonstration on energy efficient lighting: Many people commented that they were skeptical about CFL lighting before the program and were much more willing to the bulbs (lamps) a try after the program. I think the energy meter had the biggest impact- a visual way to see how much less energy was being consumed. It was also great to “test” bulbs since you can’t do that in a store. After the program, I visited with a number of people about which type of bulb would be best for different situations. One person commented that they had replaced several bulbs in their farm home with halogen bulbs. Several commented that they were going to give CFL’s a try. One person was going to look for an LED light for a barn that frequently has the light left on.
? From an Extension educator regarding an agricultural open house event: I developed a pre-assessment “Watts up? Quiz” and gave a prize to the person with the highest score..which was 3/10. We then used the educational time to help everyone understand the correct answers. Many people indicated they were going to evaluate their home energy use following the workshop.
? From an Extension educator following an ag energy workshop: Producer C he has achieved medium term impacts by using a geo-thermal source to operate an air exchange device to pre-heat air for his shop heating system. Heating the slab was not a practical venture. However, using the building project excavation to collect ground heat as a source in essentially a heat exchanger should reduce his heating expense substantially. He is excited about the potential savings.
? From an Extension educator: Consumer A decided to change out a CFL lamp in her home following the workshop. Prior to the workshop, she did not understand why the CFLs kept burning out in her unheated porch – she now knows that they are not the best product for that area and has instead purchased an LED.
? From a program participant: I was certain that I could install a small wind system on my property because it seems very windy. Following the workshop, I went home to re-evaluate my property and realized that I do not have a good site. There are far too many trees and obstructions to get good energy production. I have instead decided to focus on energy efficiency measures to reduce my consumption. I also learned in the workshop that wind would not accomplish what I really wanted to do – cut my propane bills. I’ll improve my insulation instead.

5. Producers will understand that their local issues may not be they driving factors in their energy development plans.
This evaluation criterion was established in the original grant application, but relates more to large commercial development. It was determined to focus this project on small energy technologies and individual home/farm/ranch decisions in order to better engage educators. Also, market factors in wind and electricity sales from mid-2010 to present are resulting in much less activity in commercial wind and transmission development sectors that were driving demand for these types of information.

6. Evaluations will indicate that the materials and resources available are relevant to meeting producer decision-making needs.
The response and attendance of producers at a variety of events, from traditional large-scale agricultural focused meeting to small acreage workshops, indicates that producers are utilizing the information. To address decision-making needed, a broader change in the perception of energy efficiency as a resource and the viability of renewable energy is necessary. Altering this paradigm requires longer-term view regarding the changes implemented in agricultural operations. The change is progressing slowly, but perceptibly.

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:

E3A has met and exceeded the original vision of the proposed project. The resources originally were created to meet the needs of Extension educators in MT and WY, with options for adaptations to other organizations and WSARE states.

The project has generated strong collaboration between Extension and NRCS in Montana. MT NRCS partnered with MSU Extension to host the kick-off of E3A and has since provided training and toolkits to all field offices in the state. NRCS West National Technology Support Center has also aided in training in this project. In 2012, MSU Extension received funding from EPA to pilot an energy audit project in agriculture called E3. This project is leveraging the collaboration of MSU Extension and NRCS and is also adding additional USDA and federal partners to help conduct on-farm energy audits and aid producers in implementing energy decisions.

The project first expanded outside of MT and WY with the addition of New Mexico State Extension in July 2012. Since that time, another 18 states have requested the use and adaptation of these materials for their states. At the time of the project report, licensing agreements and frameworks for sharing E3A between states are being developed. Collaborating states plan to add content and resources to enhance the existing E3A project.

More importantly, the resources are being used by educators to teach energy. The Outcomes and Impacts section of this report discusses these educational efforts.

Recommendations:

Potential Contributions

This project provides an educational framework for engaging educators in energy education. The information design, lesson plans, online collaboration tools, and self-contained nature of the project can be applied to energy education efforts in other subjects, but can also be used for other agricultural education projects. The project developers intend to continue to build upon the resources developed with this grant, and collaboration efforts with other states will help to sustain and support this project into the future.

Future Recommendations

Three items are offered for future development of engagement strategies with Extension (or other audiences not well-versed in energy):
• Ensure materials are easy to use, scalable, and easy to incorporate with existing knowledge bases or work activities,
• Start small – energy is a complex and multi-faceted subject. Provide educators with opportunities to engage in small, but significant outreach efforts,
• Pilot test products – in topics, like energy, educators may not be able to clearly articulate needs. Pilot testing ensures that the educational methods employed are appropriate to the need.

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.