This project developed a curriculum and training for NRCS, Conservation District, and Extension personnel in eight western states who work with small acreage owners. The curriculum was based on key natural resource issues (goal setting, soil, water, plants and animals) and was reviewed by 17 professionals. Included are 15 PowerPoint lessons with lesson plans and evaluation tools, and an instructor’s guide. Forty-seven professionals attended the training in October and learned how to use the curriculum to develop a comprehensive small acreage program. Over 800 copies of the curriculum have been distributed to date to 34 states and Australia.
- Review and develop a module-based core curriculum readily adaptable to specific state issues that is appropriate for teaching owners of small acreages how to attain property goals while protecting their soil, water, plant, animal, and other natural resources.
Publish the curriculum and make 100 copies available throughout the Western States.
Provide training to Western States Cooperative Extension personnel, Natural Resources Conservation Service professionals, Conservation District volunteers and others to help them use the curriculum materials in community-based efforts to effectively target and reach this under-served audience.
Throughout the west, population dynamics are changing. As communities grow, land at urban fringes is being rezoned from large, agricultural enterprises to smaller, 1 to 40+ acre parcels that maintain some agricultural uses while attracting a more diverse population of owners. For example, in 1908, Nevada had about 750,000 acres in pasture. By 1990, this had decreased to 530,000 acres. At the same time, there was a 30% decrease in ranches of 100+ acres, and a 67% increase in ranches of 10 acres or less. In Montana, between 1990 to 1995, total farm and ranch land utilization decreased by 561,457 acres. Colorado has been losing 90,000 acres of farm land along the eastern front range of the Rockies per year for the last ten years. A percentage of this property is being subdivided into 1 to 35 acre tracts for rural development. Placing the land into the hands of many and diverse owners has created a new challenge: How do we reach this audience and teach the importance of land stewardship?
Local and regional impacts on soil and water resources often increase as larger parcels are rezoned into small acreage parcels. This increase in impacts is due to increased densities of wells and septic systems, increases in amounts of impervious surface, and a lack of knowledge of and experience with appropriate integrated pest management techniques, forage management skills, grazing management techniques, and so forth. Changes in land management may result in accelerated rates of soil erosion; increases in nutrient loads, pesticides, and total dissolved solids in surface and groundwater supplies; and may affect the ability of communities to meet total maximum daily load (TMDL) levels and to provide sourcewater protection.
This growing audience of small acreage owners may not be well versed in the principles of sustainable agriculture. Many of those purchasing small acreages are professionals working in urban areas who have no prior experience in agricultural land management, wellhead protection, or septic system maintenance, and are hungry for information. Not all small acreages incorporate livestock or irrigated pasture. Some include natural drainages, and some have been maintained in native vegetation. The definition of “small acreage” itself is variable, but generally includes properties from 1 to 40 acres in size, with farm income differing widely. The variability of the audience requires a comprehensive, community-based approach to education in which the specific needs and issues for each audience are identified and addressed.
In 1993, the Washoe County, Nevada Department of Comprehensive Planning requested that Cooperative Extension personnel design a program of water education in nonpoint source (NPS) pollution in the Dry Creek watershed. The county master plan had zoned over 3 square miles on the outskirts of Reno for 2 to 10 acre ranchettes. These ranchettes were subdivided from old, large-scale agricultural ranches served by flood irrigation from the Truckee River. As subdivision of the land continued, many of the new homeowners were inexperienced in small acreage management. The planning department recommended a voluntary educational program to encourage implementation of best management practices (BMPs) on small acreages to help reduce NPS pollution from Steamboat Creek. The sense was that informed, voluntary management by property owners would provide the most effective strategy for protecting Nevada’s water from contamination.
The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension joined the Washoe-Storey Conservation District, the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the US Geological Survey in forming a coalition to create a voluntary education program for this audience, called the Small Ranch Water Quality Program. No organization had yet provided an educational program for this small acreage audience, whose activities have a potentially large effect on the environment but who are largely untrained and unregulated. Funded by a 319(h) grant through the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, a part-time project coordinator was hired to plan and implement program activities. A combination of classes, newsletters, outdoor workshops, individual site visits, and neighborhood work parties were provided by the project coordinator to increase knowledge and implementation of BMPs on individual small acreages. A publication designed for a lay audience called the Small Ranch Manual was written for use in teaching appropriate BMPs. A companion to the manual, titled “Small Ranch Project Guide” is currently in draft form. It provides specific, step-by-step information to help small acreage owners manage their soil, plant, animal, and water resources.
The Small Ranch Water Quality Program continues to receive grant funding and has been extended to two additional sub-watersheds of the Truckee River and the Carson Valley. Evaluation reveals increases in knowledge of BMPs and NPS, implementation of hundreds of BMPs on small acreage tracts, and decreases in nutrient and sediment transport as a result of BMP implementation. The program has received numerous awards, including a Search for Excellence award from NACAA, and was selected as one of EPA’s Section 319(h) Clean Water Act Success Stories in 1997. The Small Ranch Manual is in use in all western states, and several foreign countries, indicating a need and demand for these types of teaching materials. The success of this program has provided impetus for other states to begin to develop materials or workshops to address the needs of this formerly unrecognized audience, although existing efforts are often fragmented and training materials are lacking.
Several attempts were being made in Montana to address the resource issues associated with agricultural lands that are being subdivided into smaller land units and re-classified as non-agricultural lands. In 1989, the Missoula Conservation District developed a video called “These Few Acres”, aimed at creating awareness and providing hands-on information on practices small acreage owners can implement with a small investment of time and money. In 1992, a coordinated effort was made by several agencies to create, produce, and print the publication “Tips on Land and Water Management for Small Farms and Ranches in Montana.” This attractive publication has now been adapted for use in several states including Wyoming and Washington. In Montana, several counties have held landowner workshops for smaller tracts of land, emphasizing weed control and pasture management. Each spring, Gallatin County Cooperative Extension held a five-week, ten-hour program covering everything from radon in your basement to pasture management. Other efforts were underway by NRCS and the Conservation Districts to develop awareness building materials and provide small acreage workshops, although none of the programs target a specific watershed audience for natural resource protection in the manner of the Small Ranch Program.
In Washington, the small acreage audience varies from suburban ranchettes in the Seattle area to irrigated parcels in the arid eastern part of the state. Reaching livestock owners has become more difficult as they raise livestock on smaller acreages, especially in the urban fringe areas. For example, King County’s average farm size is only 35 acres, but it has the highest horse population in the state. Both King County and Whatcom County suffered decreases in pasture land, yet the numbers of cattle, sheep, and poultry all increased. In addition to the adaptation of Montana’s “Tips” booklet, King County Cooperative Extension has developed a guide called “One Acre and a Mule: A Guide to Livestock Management on Small Acreages,” which is used during workshops and other events.
Colorado has been actively developing small acreage educational materials for the last several years. Managing Small Acreage is now one of the seven state plans of work for Colorado. Materials include videos currently available or in the development phase, including “ABCs of Small Acreage Ownership” and “Horse Management on Small Acreage”. In Larimer County, two notebooks of training materials have been development for their volunteer management program for “SAMs”: Small Acreage Management volunteers.
Oregon State University conducts small farm workshops on a monthly basis on various topics, and the Dept. of Agriculture distributes educational materials such as the Small Ranch Manual. A new learning guide titled “Watershed Stewardship” incorporates a brief section on “Managing Rural Homes and Small Acreages to Protect Watersheds” that provides only an introduction to the topic.
As agricultural lands are subdivided for ranchettes, water quality continues to deteriorate, and fish populations suffer. Small holders have a significant impact on the health of watersheds through their cumulative effects. As the population increases, with more and more residents now “living on the land” who were formerly disconnected from the land, there is a huge demand for information and technical assistance to help them “do the right thing” for their wildlife, land, and water resources. This project developed training materials and assistance in targeting and reaching this growing audience to help them become good stewards of the land.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Formal face-to-face meetings of the major participants began in Reno on March 30-31, 2000. At this first meeting, we established the following goal: To provide knowledge and skills to small acreage owners to allow them to do something positive on their land. During 2000, we began to refine content and locate resources to help us develop a “generic” curriculum that could be used throughout the western states to educate “lifestylers”: those who live on small acreage properties, but do not depend on the property for major economic support.
We decided that the exact audience demographics were of lesser importance, as each program will be adapted to the specific small acreage owner audience. A brainstorming session then allowed us to determine the essential knowledge base for small acreage owners, which includes water, soils, pastures, weeds, grazing management, fencing, how grass grows, production of grasses, cool vs. warm season species, irrigated vs. dryland pastures, grazing animals, animal waste, animal health and behavior, kinds and number of animals, nutrient management, fertility, etc. We determined that we need to provide information not only on the specifics of these topics, but also on goal setting, management plans, understanding the capability of a given property, and the tools and skills needed to implement a management plan. Subcommittees were formed to develop detailed outlines of the module content.
At our next two meetings, held in October and December, 2000, we defined the main elements of our curriculum (detailed below) and reviewed the outlines for each lesson. The content includes an instructor’s guide to developing, marketing, and evaluating a small acreage program, and teaching modules on goal setting and property inventory, soils, water, forage, and animals. Each module consists of several lessons that can be used independently or in series, and includes a rationale, objectives for the module, and an introduction to the lessons that form the module. Each lesson is accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation, a lesson plan including rationale, objectives, suggested activities, materials and local resources needed, lists of sources for background information for the instructor, handouts, websites, an evaluation and a post-class mini-test. The materials are flagged at critical locations to help the instructor customize them to local needs, regulations, and conditions.
During 2001, major participants met in Reno on February 28 – March 2 and May 2 – 4 to continue to develop, review, and revise the curriculum. Melody Hefner continued to serve on a Letter of Appointment to research and edit the curriculum. Beginning in June, the curriculum was sent to 17 professionals from the eight western states involved (Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Idaho, Colorado and Montana) for review. Graphics support was provided by Annaliese Miller of Black Dog graphics, and photographs were donated by the major participants or taken from free sites on the web. The content of the revised and finalized curriculum is listed below:
1) Introduction (contains information on how the curriculum was written, and copyright issues)
2) Instructor’s Guide (includes)
-Determining the Needs of Small Acreage Owners
-Program Evaluation: Answering the Question, “What Outcome Do You Want to Accomplish?”
-Funding for Small Acreage Programs
-Budgeting For Your Program
-Marketing Your Program: “Now you’ve decided there is a need, how do you get them there?”
-Delivery Methods: How to deliver your message effectively
-Engaging Adult Learners
-Appendices with sample needs surveys, sample evaluation forms, sample surveys and questionnaires, a logic model presentation, and funding sources
3) Module #1: Setting The Stage: Inventorying Resources
Lesson 1: What Do You Have, And What Do You Want? Turning Dreams Into Reality
Lesson 2: What Can You Do?
4) Module #2: Your Living Soil
Lesson 1: Getting Down And Dirty With Soil
Lesson 2: Managing Soil To Keep It Productive
Lesson 3: Got Water?
5) Module #3: All Life Depends On Water
Lesson 1: Water Quality: Making The Connection Between You And The Water
Lesson 2: Protecting Household Drinking Water
Lesson 3: My Place On A Stream
6) Module #4: Love Your Grass As Much As Your Animals
Lesson 1: How Grass Grows
Lesson 2: What To Do About Weeds
Lesson 3: Pasture Establishment And Renovation
7) Module #5: Don’t Forget The Animals!
Lesson 1: So You Want To Be An Animal Owner
Lesson 2: Caring For Your Animals
Lesson 3: Managing Animals To Avoid Negative Impacts
Lesson 4: Grazing Management
8) CD-ROM with all files included
Our other major effort during 2001 was devoted to planning and implementing a training for professionals from the eight targeted western states employed by NRCS, Cooperative Extension, and Conservation Districts. Cinda Williams served as coordinator of the training, which was held October 2 and 3, 2001, in Reno, Nevada. Fifty participants were selected by the representatives from individual states and were offered up to $300 in travel support. We were unable to fulfill demand, and had a waiting list of individuals wanting to attend. Despite the difficulty in traveling post-September 11, 47 participants attended the training and received hardcopies and CD-ROMs of the curriculum. Training participants represented the following states and agencies:
State and Number of Participants
Agency and Number of Participants
Cooperative Extension 24
Conservation Districts 13
College of So. Idaho 1
All team members served as instructors for the training. The training agenda included:
A special presentation by the Right Reverend Stewart Ship (Dave Martin)
Needs assessment and targeting your audience (Sue Donaldson)
Marketing your program (Cinda Williams)
Engaging adult learners (Wendy Williams)
Program delivery methods (Dave Martin)
Program evaluation (Bob Hammond)
Putting together your small acreage program (Sue Donaldson)
Module presentations and activity demonstrations (Doug Stienbarger, Hud Minshew, Sue Donaldson, Sherm Swanson, Wendy Williams, Holly George)
Field trip (visit to 2 small acreage properties)
Landowner presentation (Steve and Greta Mestre)
During the field trip, participants visited two local small acreage properties that had participated in Sue Donaldson’s Small Ranch program. At the properties, students broke into groups and developed skills in property inventory and communicating with landowners. The Mestres then joined us for lunch and provided tips on successfully working with the small acreage owner.
Since the training was completed, we have developed a listserve for the instructors and participants. The list address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The lesson plans have been posted on the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension website at www.unce.unr.edu, and Gene Surber of Montana State University Cooperative Extension assisted in posting the entire curriculum to their web site at www.animalrangeextension.montana.edu/LoL/home.htm.
Activities during 2002 focused on materials distribution, curriculum promotion, and evaluation of the materials. Presentations were made at a number of national meetings, including the Urban Agriculture Symposium in Dallas in May; the annual meeting of the Association of Natural Resource Extension Professionals in Florida in June; the annual meeting of the Soil and Water Conservation Society in July; and the annual meeting of the American Society of Agronomy/Soil Science Society of America/Crop Science Society of America in November. Each presentation resulted in numerous orders for the curriculum.
The team also crafted an evaluation survey that was administered to curriculum recipients in September by e-mail. The survey was formatted, distributed, and results compiled by the Center for Partnership Evaluation at the University of Nevada, Reno. The team met once in October, 2002 in Longmont, Colorado to review the results of the evaluation and discuss options for further revisions or additions to the curriculum.
Outreach and Publications
Living on the Land: Stewardship for Small Acreages. Curriculum binder (full color) and CD are provided with this report.
Donaldson, S. 2002. Living on the Land: A New Tool for Reaching the Small Acreage Owner. Urban Agriculture: Emerging Opportunities in Science, Education, and Policy. Dallas, TX, May 19-22.
Donaldson, S. 2002. Living on the Land: Educating Small Acreage Owners About Resource Management. 3rd Natural Resource Extension Professionals Conference, Naples, FL, June 2-5.
Donaldson, S. 2002. Living on the Land: Educating Small Acreage Owners About Nonpoint Source Pollution Prevention. Setting the Pace for Conservation, Soil and Water Conservation Society 2002 Conference, Indianapolis, IN, July 13-17.
Donaldson, S. 2002. Living on the Land: Educating Small Acreage Owners About Nonpoint Source Pollution Prevention. Journal of Soil and Water Conservation S/O 2002, p. 26.
Minshew, H. 2002. Living on the Land Curriculum: Addressing Stewardship for Small Acreages. ASA/SSSA/CSSA Annual Meeting, November 14, 2002.
DeMaster, D. and S. Donaldson. 2002. Living on the Land: Stewardship for Small Acreagees. Farm & home environmental management programs news, Fall 2002, Farm*A*Syst/Home*A*Syst/Healthy Homes/Ag EMS/P2A2, http://www.uwex.edu/AgEMS/newsletter/fall02.html
National Finalist, Learning Module, Living on the Land, 2002 Communications Awards Program, National Association of County Agricultural Agents.
American Society of Agronomy 2002 Educational Materials National Award, Audio-Visual Category.
An initial evaluation of training participants was collected at the end of the training. One participant wrote: “What a wonderful conference!! Thank you for all of the preparation you went through to make this such a success. I am very excited about reaching out to our small acreage landowners here in Western Oregon.” Twenty trainees intended to use the curriculum to implement a small acreage program in their local area. Complete results of the training evaluation are included in the appendix.
Since the training, at which 65 curricula were distributed, 743 additional copies of the CD-ROM have been requested. Copies were also provided to 25 Western Extension Directors. We continue to receive about 15 orders per month. Details on the post-training distribution of CDs by state as of 12/9/02 are provided below.
State # CDs State # CDs State # CDs
Alaska 2 Maryland 1 Pennsylvania 3
Alabama 1 Michigan 2 South Carolina 11
Arizona 2 Minnesota 4 South Dakota 7
California 59 Missouri 1 Tennessee 2
Colorado 153 Montana 171 Texas 4
Washington, D.C. 1 North Carolina 1 Utah 11
Delaware 1 Nebraska 1 Virginia 2
Iowa 2 New Jersey 3 Washington 109
Idaho 53 Nevada 54 Wisconsin 5
Illinois 1 New York 6 Wyoming 3
Indiana 3 Ohio 10
Kentucky 3 Oregon 45
The first annual follow-up evaluation was conducted in August 2002 to determine how the curriculum is being used; which sections are most valuable; what information should be added; how many new small acreage programs have begun; etc. Respondents represented 44 counties in 16 states plus Australia. Training participants accounted for 35% of the respondents. For most respondents, water quality issues top the list of motivators for programming, followed by nutrient management and water quantity. Eighty-three percent of respondents felt it is very important to educate small acreage owners in their area. Fully half of the respondents have not used the curriculum yet; only 5% (3) have taught the entire 15-lesson course. The most common audience with which the materials are used is that of small acreage owners who own 1-20 acres of land (71.4%). Conservatively, respondents used the materials to teach in excess of 1100 students during the first year since completion. Comparisons using a Chi-square test showed training attendees were more likely to use the curriculum in teaching than non-attendees and were more likely to share the materials with colleagues.
The majority of respondents rated the PowerPoint lessons as the most useful component of the curriculum (91% ranked it 4 or 5 on a scale from 1 (not useful) to 5 (very useful)). The most frequently used lessons include all three from the soils module, the lesson on Protecting Drinking Water, and the lesson on Grazing Management. All 15 lessons received an average rating of 4 or greater when respondents were asked the question, “Rate the quality of each lesson based on a scale from 1 (inadequate for my purposes) to 5 (with suggested customization, did/would work really well).” Mean ratings are summarized in the table below. Hundreds of improved practices have been implemented by students. A copy of the full evaluation results is provided in the Appendix.
Mean rating scores based on quality
Lesson Mean Rating
Module #1: Setting The Stage: Inventorying Resources
Lesson 1: What Do You Have, And What Do You Want? Turning Dreams Into Reality 4.0
Lesson 2: What Can You Do? 4.17
Module #2: Your Living Soil
Lesson 1: Getting Down And Dirty With Soil 4.42
Lesson 2: Managing Soil To Keep It Productive 4.44
Lesson 3: Got Water? 4.24
Module #3: All Life Depends On Water
Lesson 1: Water Quality: Making The Connection Between You And The Water 4.61
Lesson 2: Protecting Household Drinking Water 4.24
Lesson 3: My Place On A Stream 4.32
Module #4: Love Your Grass As Much As Your Animals
Lesson 1: How Grass Grows 4.47
Lesson 2: What To Do About Weeds 4.47
Lesson 3: Pasture Establishment And Renovation 4.59
Module #5: Don’t Forget The Animals!
Lesson 1: So You Want To Be An Animal Owner 4.15
Lesson 2: Caring For Your Animals 4.07
Lesson 3: Managing Animals To Avoid Negative Impacts 4.44
Lesson 4: Grazing Management 4.42
The following list of accomplishments demonstrates some of the widespread success the program is having at reaching the targeted audience:
· The curriculum was presented to the Livestock Production Systems Workgroup of the California Cattlemen’s Convention. Thirty-five copies will be distributed to NRCS offices in California by state outreach coordinator Marsha Gery. NRCS plans to set up a demonstration of the program.
· Frances Brewster, senior water quality specialist, for the Santa Clara Valley Water District is using the materials to educate small acreage landowners in conjunction with NRCS and UC Cooperative Extension.
· Colorado State University Cooperative Extension conducted a LOL in-service training for Extension staff in February 2002, with another training scheduled for April 2002.
· Team member Bob Hamblen will distribute a LOL CD-ROM to each county Cooperative Extension Office and each NRCS office in the state, and Oregon received one request from Colorado for a copy.
· Scott Jensen, University of Idaho Extension livestock professional, used the entire curriculum in 2002 to teach a 16-week training (one night per week) in Boise, Idaho for small acreage owners from five counties. The course will again be offered in 2003, with alumni of the first class assisting in facilitating the second class. Scott used all the assessment and evaluation materials in the curriculum to evaluate his program. Students were very grateful and wrote “Enjoyed the class. Thanks to both of you, your enthusiasm and positive attitude about making the land a better place was important and it’s nice to know that people in your positions are working hard to preserve our land.
· Dr. Rick Parker at the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls is using the LOL curriculum to teach each of the five LOL modules as 1-credit classes.
· Education specialist and team member, Dave Martin, incorporated LOL materials and delivered a presentation at the Montana Association of Conservation Districts to about 60 people. Dave is planning two LOL workshops, one for realtors and one for landowners, with Montana State University Extension Service and local conservation districts. Dave will promote the program in city and county governments.
· Sue Donaldson, water quality specialist with Nevada Cooperative Extension and LOL team leader, hosted the first LOL training in Reno, which has created a large demand for the curriculum.
· The curriculum is being used to target the small acreage audience in the Carson Valley in a Living on the Land program. Attendance at the first training exceeded 130 residents.
· Donaldson has used Module 3, Lessons 1 & 2 (Water Quality, Drinking Water) and Module 4, Lesson 2 (Weeds) for numerous public presentations reaching in excess of 600 residents in Western Nevada.
· NRCS has distributed the CD to all field offices.
· The State Conservation District coordinator has requested a copy for distribution to Conservation Districts.
· Oregon State University (OSU) watershed extension agent and LOL team member Hudson Minshew, used materials from the curriculum to teach Protecting Household Drinking Water to approximately 100 people in November 2001, in Grants Pass and Medford, Oregon.
· Jeff Rola, coordinator for the Deschutes Conservation District in Bend, Oregon (the fastest growing city in Oregon) received grant monies to host an LOL training in March 2002.
· Chris Howell, small farms extension agent, and Gail Andrews, water quality extension specialist, at Oregon State University, will use LOL materials in their programs starting in 2002.
· Melissa Simonsen, a conservation technician from Marion Soil and Water Conservation District in Salem, Oregon coordinated a 4-part series from the LOL curriculum from February to March—Your Living Soil, Protecting Household Drinking Water, How Grass Grows and What to Do about Weeds. Melissa used the example ‘needs assessment survey’ in the curriculum to decide which subjects to teach.
· Mike Gangwer, dairy extension agent with OSU, used materials from the Living Soil Module to teach a group of dairy farmers about soil water management to improve timing of land applications of manure, which reduces pollution. Mike said, “You guys did a great job!”
· Geri Sullivan from NRCS, South Dakota presented the LOL program to the NRCS management team. After reviewing the curriculum, NRCS decided to order enough copies to supply all the RC&D offices in the state.
· Jennifer Coyle, a conservation planner with the Clallam Conservation District in Port Angeles, Washington, adapted the materials to teach two 4-H programs on Managing Animals to Avoid Negative Impacts. She will deliver the same program two more times in Spring 2002 and will give a presentation about the usefulness of the LOL curriculum at a statewide conservation district staff conference in June 2002.
· John Fouts and Tonie Fitzgerald, extension educators in Spokane, Washington, presented an overview of the LOL curriculum to NE WA and North ID Extension small farm team and the WSU Ag Horizons team. They adapted the curriculum to make three presentations at the Country Living Expo in Spokane in March, 2002. They also distributed the CD-ROM to extension and conservation district offices in northeast WA and northern ID.
· Becky Dalenberg, a Clark Conservation District technician from Washington, recently delivered a workshop and used slides from Module 3—All Life Depends on Water to add to the presentation. Thirty-five people attended the workshop. The trainer stated, “The graphics are great and the presentations are very well organized.”
· Rene Skaggs from Pierce County Conservation District in Puyallup, Washington, used LOL to present three workshops on manure and mud management to a total of 82 participants. Rene used the sample ‘needs assessment survey’ in the curriculum to decide which subjects to teach.
· Team member Doug Stienbarger will distribute the LOL CD-ROM to members of the WSU Food & Farm Connections Team in western Washington.
The Living on the Land curriculum is the first product of its kind. It integrates the basics of resource management for small acreage owners, and helps bridge the barriers to education of this growing audience. The response by natural resource professionals requesting and using the LOL curriculum demonstrates that the LOL curriculum is a major step in providing relevant and current information on land stewardship to a growing population. When implemented by landowners, this information promises to minimize conflicts between at the urban-rural interface where landowners are growing crops and raising animals. The curriculum provides tools to landowners that will help them protect their resources and make them more aware of neighboring issues that can arise. With this kind of education, some of the problems associated with poor management and/or lack of awareness can be averted.
The true measure of success of this program will lie in documenting the increase in knowledge and change in behavior (e.g. adoption of BMPs) by local audiences as a result of programs initiated by program participants making use of the curriculum. We expect that it will take several years to collect meaningful data on behavioral changes.
As water quality standards and regulations become more stringent, it is to everyone’s benefit that small acreage owners learn land management techniques to decrease nonpoint source pollution. The products of this grant were targeted not at producers, but at lifestylers. As such, the benefit to producers results from improved land management at the suburban/rural interface, and secondarily as the materials are used in educating producers as well as small acreage owners.
Several things are needed to ensure the continued usefulness of the curriculum. First, we must continue to take every opportunity to publicize the product. We ask that WSARE consider adding information on the curriculum to its website.
Within the next two years, content should be reviewed and revised as needed. We propose to investigate the need for an additional module devoted to issues surrounding the economics of small acreage ownership, potentially adding a sixth module to the curriculum. Other subjects of interest include home landscape and gardens, and small lot forestry management.