Capacity building for Cooperative Extension in Micronesia to reduce Pacific Island food system vulnerability to climate variability

Final report for EW18-023

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2018: $74,858.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Hawaii
Region: Western
State: Hawaii
Principal Investigator:
Clay Trauernicht
University of Hawaii
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Project Information


This project will expand the geographic scope of a current effort by the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources at the University of Hawaii to conduct “Climate Forums” for Pacific Island Cooperative Extension Service (CES) faculty. The objectives of these Forums are to 1) develop climate science knowledge among CES agents in the US-Affiliated Pacific Islands, 2) work with CES to identify locally relevant strategies for climate change adaptation, and 3) identify opportunities to integrate these strategies into CES programs to increase adoption among agricultural producers and resources managers in the region.  Building on existing curriculum and the success of Climate Forums conducted in Hawaii, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and American Samoa, we will replicate the approach in Pohnpei and Chuuk in the Federated States of Micronesia.  Prior Climate Forums have brought together between 40-100 extension and outreach professionals in CES and other agencies over 2- to 3-days for lectures and facilitated group activities to review the current state of climate change knowledge, existing tools and resources, and identify strategies to better prepare our clients and communities to cope with the impacts of increasing climate variability.  The Climate Forums provide a venue to draw on CES personnel’s long-term understanding of local cultures, issues, and food production and land management systems to identify opportunities and the resources required to integrate climate adaptation strategies into CES programs.  Syntheses of the discussions and presentations at Climate Forums in Pohnpei and Chuuk will be developed into online training modules, a database of current extension projects related to climate adaptation, and the identification of next steps, prioritized by event participants.  These outputs, along with prior funded work, will contribute to a region-wide scope of work for climate adaptation needs derived from CES professionals across six island groups in the Pacific region.

Project Objectives:

Our specific objectives are as follows (See Methods for greater detail):
(1) Develop and deliver a climate science curriculum via Climate Forums for CES personnel and similar
agencies on Pohnpei and Chuuk
(2) Identify and expand locally relevant opportunities and pathways to integrate climate change into
CES programs


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  • Nat Tuivavalagi (Educator and Researcher)


Educational approach:

This project uses a combination of lectures and interactive workshop activities.  The workshop follows a curriculum design map that links workshop content to specific learning objectives to meet the project goals.  Group discussion sections are designed to gather and share information that will contribute directly to extension products - namely an final annotated workshop agenda providing key background information on local climate science and impacts as a reference and a fact sheet designed to disseminate information on climate change impacts and appropriate adaptation strategies to extension clients.  In addition, workshops incorporate field days to discuss the use and improvement of demonstration sites and other extension resources in improving climate adaptation for local farms.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Pacific Island climate science

Why is climate change relevant for your work and clientele?


Describe Pacific climate systems, drivers of variations, and projected changes and impacts:

Climate and weather - Pacific climate systems; atmosphere circulation patterns over the Pacific ocean, island rainfall patterns; Drivers of variations (seasonality, El Niño-Southern Oscillation, La Niña, PDO)

Carbon, climate change, and agriculture - carbon cycle and human emissions; climate model projections, downscaling for Pacific Islands.

Projected climate changes - temperature; rainfall; sea level; storm intensity and occurrence

Outcomes and impacts:

Develop and increase foundational knowledge of regional climate change science and literacy

Climate-related resources and tools

What existing resources can we use? What resources need to be developed?


Workshop participants use group activities to: 1) Review climate information and other resources for their region (and elsewhere); 2) Identify the most useful/relevant climate-related resources to support extension programs; 3) Identify resources that don't exist that would be useful

Outcomes and impacts:

Incorporate climate-related information and tools into extension, natural resource service providers, and community partner activities and plans of work to support climate adaptation.

Options for responding to climate change through current extension programs

Define and differentiate cliamte adaptation and climate mitigation. Recognize how adaptation is relevant to extension program desired outcomes.


Group discussion to identify (1) Which resources programs use to track climate/weather?; (2) What kind of timescales are relevant for different extension clients in terms of climate/weather forecasting and planning? (3) How do your current programs address preparing for and/or responding to climate- and weather-related impacts?

Outcomes and impacts:

Identify culturally relevant strategies for climate adaptation and communication.

Pacific-wide, cross-institutional extension support

Maintain dialogue and feedback among extension programs who have participated in the project's climate adaptation workshops.


The current project is organizing workshops in Pohnpei and Chuuk, which builds off previous workshops in Guam, CNMI, American Samoa and Hawaii. The project organizers maintain monthly to bimonthly phone calls with co-organizers in extension programs in each of these islands.

Outcomes and impacts:

Improve knowledge sharing across geographic boundaries. Identify region-wide and local scale issues where technology transfer can improve extension programs and farmer outcomes.

Educational & Outreach Activities

7 Consultations
4 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
2 Online trainings
2 Tours
7 Webinars / talks / presentations
2 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

19 Extension
5 Researchers
10 Nonprofit
39 Agency
9 Farmers/ranchers
3 Others

Learning Outcomes

67 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
47 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
5 New working collaborations
Project outcomes:

The key project outputs were the two-day Climate Forum workshops each on Pohnpei and Chuuk with 45 and 40 participants, respectively, from Cooperative Extension, local agriculture, forestry, and other government agencies, and a range of non-profits engaged in various aspects of agriculture and food security.  The workshops entailed developing curricula with local organizing committees that addressed the educational initiatives described above.  The curricula (included as project outputs) relied on a variety of presentations and faciltiated discussion that provided opportunities for local agency and non-profit professionals to present the current state of knowledge in their areas of expertise and engaged the entire participant group in a critical dialogue specifically on the actions required to address and mitigate climate change impacts on local agricultural systems. 

Overall learning outcomes were positive, with 60-90% of project participants reporting a high level of knowledge of climate change impacts on agriculture after the workshops.  In addition 50-70% of participants indicated they felt confident to communicate about climate change after attending the Forums and 40-60% indicated they would incorporating materials and topics into their work and educational activities.  For example, one participant stated, "I found this workshop to be helpful as a person without an agriculture/science background. I will be using what I've learned with my work with youth and people in the communities.”

Although the proposed idea for these Forum was to have participants develop educational fact sheets, our collaborators proposed and elected instead to have participants at each event draft a "Call To Action" that explicitly identified actions required at government, community, and household levels to increase the resilience of island food systems to climate change.  In terms of outcomes, these "Calls" help to conclude and move forward prior discussions on climate vulnerability and proactively highlight local needs with specific, concrete recommendations for climate change response.  As an action outcome itself, the synthesis of ideas captured in the "Call to Action" documents provides a critical reference that clearly communicates a path moving forward, which was a key project objective.

In addition, based on discussions with our local organizing committees, online resources were developed to provide regional overviews and project and farmer spotlights across various Pacific Islands on the project website  This site gathers both island-specific and regionally relevant climate information resources and mitigation strategies to support Cooperative Extension programs in the Pacific.

16 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

There is a critical need to examine market potential for both conventional and traditional crops in the islands and the barriers of getting goods to markets.  There is also a desire of farmers to increase and exchange varietal diversity, especially of traditional crops such as bananas, breadfruit, and yams.  Finally freshwater water access and storage is a critical resource at the farm and household level that could be improved through local training.

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.