Final report for EW15-023

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2015: $62,260.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2018
Grant Recipient: New Mexico State University
Region: Western
State: Utah
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Gerald Hawkes
New Mexico State University
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Project Information

Abstract:

New Mexico State University’s range scientists, media development team and the Tri-State Navajo Nation Extension professionals worked together to develop a Navajo/English mobile-accessible tool and agricultural professional support system to help Navajo range managers sustain the future of their Navajo rangelands. This integrated program addresses specific management needs identified by Navajo producers and supports interpretation and documentation of vegetation and range conditions.

Project Objectives:

The primary objective for this proposal is to provide Navajo agricultural professionals, farmers and ranchers with an easy-to-use, up-to-date mobile-accessible tool that will support efforts to improve rangeland ecology, maximize productivity and encourage sustainability. The project team proposes to do this by:

1. Developing innovative mobile-accessible tools that allow professionals and producers to access information on effective rangeland management methods while out on the range. The tools include written and spoken Navajo plant names and support interpretation of range conditions and encourages photo documentation of vegetation and range conditions. It will help create a forum for Navajo agricultural professionals, ranchers and farmers to gather and share current data with other agricultural professionals and producers. 

a. Project team members will confer with Extension rangeland experts in the region and use existing resources to draw content to use in the tool and ensure it provides updated information. 

b. Navajo Extension professionals will be involved throughout the process to ensure information is correct and effective for their target audience.

2. Training Navajo agricultural professionals on how to effectively educate Navajo producers about improving rangeland management and sustainability methods through use of the tool.

3. Implementing the tool in the field, thus increasing agricultural professionals’ knowledge and confidence by providing “any time, anywhere” accessibility of information on mobile devices with specific content related to sustainable rangeland management on the Navajo reservation. 

Introduction:

New Mexico State University’s range scientists, innovative media development team and Navajo Tri-State Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program professionals have worked together to develop an interactive Navajo/English web tool, downloadable version for offline use, and agricultural professional support system to help Navajo range managers sustain the future of their Navajo rangelands. It addresses specific management needs identified by Navajo producers and supports Navajo language speakers by providing written and spoken Navajo plant names, as well as encouraging photo documentation of vegetation and range conditions.  During 2017-2018, NMSU Innovative Media Research and Extension (formerly Media Productions) finalized content material, mobile-accessible web database and webpage, and downloadable version for offline use. The present version of the product, accessible at http://navajorange.nmsu.edu, reflects changes and re-direction resulting from lessons learning during successive rounds of user-testing and review by stakeholders.

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Gerald Moore (Educator)

Education

Educational approach:

During winter/spring 2016, NMSU Media Productions created a prototype for delivery of the content material via mobile device, and tested its functionality and design using the Navajo Range Plant database (prototype developed during Fall, 2015). The present version of the product, accessible at http://navajorange.nmsu.edu, reflects changes and re-direction resulting from lessons learning during user-testing of the prototype.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Mobile App for Navajo Rangeland Monitoring
Objective:

See objectives listed below project summary in main report page.

Description:

Gerald Moore, Coordinating Extension Agent of Navajo Tri-State Federally Recognized Tribal Extension Program, has presented the rangeland plants tools from this project to groups of stakeholders. These include: elected Farm Board Officials who represent the major farms through the Navajo Nation; Navajo agency professionals (including from BIA, NRCS, Navajo Department of Agriculture, and Navajo Soil and Water Conservation District); and educators (including from Diné College). Upcoming groups include Eastern Navajo Agency Ranchers–NM and Navajo Nation Grazing Committee Officials.

Outcomes and impacts:

Preliminary research suggests positive outcomes and impacts of the Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands tool (http://NavajoRange.NMSU.edu). Among 25 agricultural leaders surveyed, 92% felt that the resources would be used on the Navajo Nation. Respondents cited images, written Navajo, and spoken Navajo as the most useful aspects of the tool. Although a majority of respondents stated that they themselves used English names for plants, 40% also or primarily used Navajo names, with four respondents (16%) also using scientific names and one respondent (4%) using Hopi names. Respondents primarily anticipated using the guide to learn Navajo names of plants (moreso than pronunciations), which suggests that a printed version of the guide would also be of use.  Respondents felt the guide would be used by their friends, children, teachers, parents, and grandparents, with more than half of respondents specifying its usefulness to children. Nearly all respondents (92%) agreed that this guide would help the next generation and that it would support healthy rangeland management.

Educational & Outreach Activities

3 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
2 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Workshop field days
3 User testing and review by stakeholders.

Participation Summary

3 Extension
2 NRCS
2 Researchers
1 Nonprofit
2 Agency
1 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
27 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

34 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

Project outcomes:
Image of grass seedhead with Navajo text and audio (English translation: Take care of our Navajo Rangelands) and three shadowed images of Navajo rangelands
Header of the webpage for the Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands tool, with a welcome message from Gerald Moore

The Selected Plant of Navajo Rangelands webpage presents a searchable database of 198 rangeland plants found on the Navajo Nation, including both native, beneficial plants and noxious/invasive plants. When the user selects a plant they can view images of that plant, read and hear its Navajo name, and learn about its role in rangelands, including special concerns such as noxious status or risk of livestock poisoning. Each plant entry includes the searchable categories plant type, growing season, scientific and alternate names, flower color, rangeland warnings, and (for most plants) written and spoken Navajo. 

Search fields and an image of cow parsnip (a sample plant showing what the database will produce in response to search).
Search functionality of the Navajo rangeland plants tool.

 

Six images of forbs found on the Navajo Nation, with sound icons indicating that Navajo audio will be played if the plant is selected.
Search results showing an example of a search for forbs found on the Navajo Nation, including their Navajo names and their key range characteristics.
Close-up of yellow flower on a green stem, sound icon indicating Navajo audio will play, and text description
First page of web database entry for bitterweed.
White flower with yellow center on green shrub, sound icon indicating Navajo audio will play, and text description
First page of web database entry for cliffrose.
Short green bunchgrass growing in red sand, sound icon indicating Navajo audio will play, and text description
First page of web database entry for spike dropseed.
Image of the cover of a 2018 downloadable version of the database for offline use, as well as the cover of a historical document from 1981, also available for download.
Download page showing resources available for offline use, including 350-page printable version of the online database.

 

Image of a small bunchgrass, icon indicating Navajo audio will play, and text description of the plant
The entry for the grass ring muhly in the downloadable version for offline use

 

Image of a gray/yellow flowering shrub, sound icon indicating Navajo audio will play, and text description
The entry for four-winged saltbush in the downloadable version for offline use

 

entry from Navajo plants guide for pingue, a yellow-flowering herb
Entry for the toxic forb pingue, from the downloadable version for offline use.

Impacts & Accomplishments

  • Navajo rangeland managers, working through Gerald Moore of the Tri-State Navajo Nation Extension unit, were involved in project development, and in providing feedback on prototypes development in conjunction with NMSU scientists and the development team. Navajo agency professionals have also been involved throughout the process to ensure information is correct and effective for their target audience. In Fall 2016, after visiting Window Rock, NM for user testing, the team received ongoing contributions of images, information, and advice from agency personnel and others who forged connections to the project during testing. 
  • During user testing with Navajo range managers in Window Rock, NM, development team members observed, recorded, and analyzed responses from participants and produced a 12-page user-testing journal describing these findings.
    Table of contents page of a user-testing journal
    Table of Contents page of the user-testing journal

     

    • A mobile-accessible, searchable web tool, “Selected Plants of Navajo Rangelands,” is available online at http://navajorange.nmsu.edu. It includes information about 198 Navajo rangeland plants including plant type, growing season, flower color, special concerns (including if plant is poisonous/noxious), plant names (scientific names, Navajo names, and English common names), images, descriptions, spoken Navajo (playable audio), and rangeland management tips, including how the plant behaves under grazing. For offline use, a downloadable booklet version of the database has also been created, containing most of the same information and intended for download to a mobile device for use in the field. It can be downloaded here: http://navajorange.nmsu.edu/download_handbook.php
    • Rangeland plant information was gathered in collaboration with Gerald Moore (Navajo Nation Tri-State FRTEP Program) and Nick Ashcroft (Extension Range Specialist, NMSU) and includes photos, descriptions, plant IDs, and localized information gathered from the USDA PLANTS database, BLM botanists, NRCS specialists, BIA specialists, Navajo Department of Agriculture specialists, and online resources provided, with permission, by Western NM State University, Utah State Extension, and the University of Arizona. 
    • Gerald Moore, along with a Navajo language specialist, delivered a large number of Navajo language audio and text files to NMSU. Gerald Moore has also worked with a Navajo language specialist regarding best practices for Navajo font use on mobile devices and computers.  In 2017-2018, the NMSU team was able to update the Navajo text for plant names to a generally readable font that can be copied/pasted from a web browser, allowing greater flexibility for users.
    • Navajo rangeland managers, working through Gerald Moore and the Tri-State Navajo Nation Extension unit, were involved in project development, and in providing feedback on prototypes development in conjunction with NMSU scientists and the app development team. Navajo agency professionals have also been involved throughout the process to ensure information is correct and effective for their target audience. The NMSU team and Gerald Moore met in January, February, and March 2018 to review the tool, finalize changes and corrections, and plan for future distribution.
    • Gerald Moore is continuing distribution and field-testing of the tool on the Navajo Nation. He has distributed the tool to elected Farm Board Officials who represent the major farms through the Navajo Nation and plans to distribute it to elected officials who represent Eastern Navajo Agency ranchers in New Mexico and the Navajo Nation Grazing Committee, who represent Navajo Nation ranchers on the Arizona side of the Navajo Nation.
  • A 350-page downloadable version of the online database information is also available, to enable offline use.

    Grey and white drawings of plant types, showing leaf shape, growth form, and stem formation
    In both the web database and downloadable version, plants are sorted by plant type to enable easy searching.

     

11 Agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
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.