Empowering Agricultural Professionals to Support Beneficial Birds and Discourage Pest Birds

Progress report for WPDP21-022

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $93,851.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G206-22-W8617
Grant Recipient: Wild Farm Alliance
Region: Western
State: California
Principal Investigator:
Jo Ann Baumgartner
Wild Farm Alliance
Co-Investigators:
Shelly Connor
Wild Farm Alliance
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Project Information

Abstract:

Most farmers see perching birds and raptors as beneficial (Kross et al. 2018) and want professional assistance with determining how to support their actions, and how to manage pest birds when they cause trouble (Bardenhagen, et al. 2020). The majority of bird species that visit farms are beneficial during nesting season when they provide critical pest control services. We can encourage them year-round by increasing farm habitat and diversity with cost-effective on-the-ground IPM practices. If pest birds are a problem, they can be discouraged with specific practices during the shorter periods when they cause damage.

To increase the adoption of bird-friendly and bird-deterrent practices on farms in California, Oregon and Washington, agricultural professionals must be trained on the latest research, tools and resources that support and manage the roles of birds on farms. Wild Farm Alliance (WFA) will develop an online, interactive training module comprising five tracks, each containing two one-hour classes, with instructors who have conducted avian pest control research, and/or have experience with farm conservation practices and pest management strategies. Four videos will be integrated into the curriculum.

Through our classes we will educate agricultural professionals on how to assist farmers, virtually or in the field, to assess the farmscape, and to outline technical aspects of practice implementation (e.g. planting hedgerows, installing nest boxes, using frightening devices). The five tracks will be live for 100 participants. Results will be measured through pre- and post-training evaluations of the participants in the live classes. Finally, we will make the recorded classes, videos and other related WFA resources available in an online resource library to be used by agricultural professionals during the classes and later when giving trainings themselves. 

Project Objectives:

The purpose of this project is to advance agricultural professionals’ understanding of, and technical assistance for, supporting beneficial birds and managing pest birds on farms. Our interactive online training program and resources will target extension educators, pest control advisors, NRCS planners and Conservation District staff, sharing science-based bird-friendly and bird-deterrent strategies that will ultimately grow their capacity to help farmers with their conservation, production, and pest management needs and goals. 

Objectives include: 

  1. By August 2022, 100 agricultural professionals from California, Oregon and Washington will increase their understanding of the research and the cost-effectiveness of on-the-ground IPM practices that reduce pesticide use, incorporate birds as pest control allies, and manage pest birds from attending at least one of our five tracks in our live online training program. They will also be equipped with tools and resources to better assist farmers with assessing a farm and implementing practices that support beneficial birds and manage pest birds. 
  2. By August 2022, more than 1000 agricultural professionals will view one or more of our four 10-15 minute education videos, increasing their knowledge about 1) how to assess and support the farm for birds’ food, nesting and cover requirements, 2) which beneficial birds can be supported with nest boxes, 3) how to design the farmscape to be bird friendly and safe, and 4) how to manage pest birds.
  3. By December 2022, an additional 500 agricultural professionals will access our online resource library and be better equipped with knowledge, skills and resources to assist farmers with implementing practices to support beneficial birds and manage pest birds. Some professionals will later use these materials when giving trainings themselves. We will compile resources (previously created and newly developed through this project) in a multimedia online library.
Timeline:

Assumptions and Beliefs

The rationale for this project is based on our observations that growers and ag professionals are eager to implement practices to encourage avian pest control but need additional information to be successful. Through 300 surveys and direct conversations over the last two years in our work of promoting beneficial birds and managing pest birds, WFA has seen a tremendous increase in the number of ag professionals and growers who want more information. 

Resources, Contributions and Investments

WFA will contribute staff time and expertise to the project along with collaborating instructors for the online classes. The five tracks will integrate resources WFA has previously created for agricultural professionals and farmers. These resources outline research supporting beneficial birds and instructions on how to implement practices, including: 

  • Supporting Beneficial Birds and Managing Pest Birds (which is a NRCS Technical Note-TN-Biology-CA-30)
  • WFA’s online Multimedia Story Platform that hosts research, farmer success stories and tools for farmers to support birds (funded by California Department of Pesticide Regulation)
  • Beneficial Bird Habitat Assessment and Opportunities Form, Bird PlantList Tool, and two Bird Habitat Fact Sheets (all funded by NRCS Conservation Innovation Grants). 

In addition, we will create four educational videos to support the online training program. The grant request will support salary for staff, honorariums for instructors and for experts interviewed in the videos, fees to work with a videographer, webinar production fees and costs associated with publication, distribution and promotion of the resources.  

Methodology, Activities and Timeline

WFA will first conduct outreach to recruit ag professionals to attend one or more of the five tracks through email, phone calls and other activities. Next, we will lead the classes. Our online format will allow us to reach a big audience from the West Coast states. We will: 

  • Create a five-track training program with major cooperators (October-December 2021).
  • Develop recruitment materials and enroll at least 100 participants (December 2021-February 2022).
  • Create, print and distribute class materials (WFA resources, evaluations, farm scenario assessments) (January-February 2022).
  • Conduct pre-training evaluation (February 2022).
  • Hold live online classes with collaborating instructors, conduct post-training evaluation after each class, and upload class recordings and videos:
    • Track 1: March 2022
    • Track 2: April 2022
    • Track 3: May 2022
    • Track 4: June 2022
    • Track 5: July 2022
  • Host peer-to-peer information sharing meeting (August 2022).
  • Promote online resource library through email, postcard mailing and other activities (September-December 2022).

Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Dr. Sacha Heath (Educator)
  • Dr. Sara Kross (Educator)
  • Rachael Long (Educator)

Education

Educational approach:

The purpose of this project is to advance agricultural professionals’ understanding of, and technical assistance for, supporting beneficial birds and managing pest birds on farms. Our interactive online training program and resources will target extension educators, pest control advisors, NRCS planners and Conservation District staff, sharing science-based bird-friendly and bird-deterrent strategies that will ultimately grow their capacity to help farmers with their conservation, production, and pest management needs and goals. 

 

Our training will cover the latest research, tools and resources that support and manage the roles of birds on farms. To conduct the training, we will create an online, interactive training module comprising five tracks, each containing two-one-hour classes, with instructors who have conducted avian pest control research, and/or have experience with farm conservation practices and pest management strategies. In addition, we will create four videos that compliment the online trainings, and compile existing materials to round out our educational approach. 

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Online Training Classes
Objective:

By August 2022, 100 agricultural professionals from California, Oregon and Washington will increase their understanding of the research and the cost-effectiveness of on-the-ground IPM practices that reduce pesticide use, incorporate birds as pest control allies, and manage pest birds from attending at least one of our five tracks in our live online training program. They will also be equipped with tools and resources to better assist farmers with assessing a farm and implementing practices that support beneficial birds and manage pest birds.

Description:

Since the start of our project we have worked with our advisory team to create learning objectives for each of our 5-tracks, develop each online course outline that will achieve learning objectives and reach out to speakers to schedule the courses. In addition, we have also created a database of agricultural professionals in California, Oregon and Washington who we will conduct outreach to and encourage them to sign up for the classes.

Outcomes and impacts:

To date we have not held any classes and do not have any outcomes or impacts to report on.

Videos to Compliment the Online Training Classes
Objective:

By August 2022, more than 1000 agricultural professionals will view one or more of our four 10-15 minute education videos, increasing their knowledge about 1) how to assess and support the farm for birds’ food, nesting and cover requirements, 2) which beneficial birds can be supported with nest boxes, 3) how to design the farmscape to be bird friendly and safe, and 4) how to manage pest birds.

Description:

Since October 2021, we have signed a contract with a videographer and held several meetings on the content and development of our four videos. We also have a working timeline for the videos to ensure they are completed on time. We also worked with our advisory team to finalize the topics of the four videos:

  1. Beneficial Birds and Nest Boxes
  2. On-Farm Habitat Supports Beneficial Birds
  3. Managing Pest Birds
  4. Assessing Farms for Birds’ Food, Nesting and Cover Requirements
Outcomes and impacts:

To date we have not held any classes and do not have any outcomes or impacts to report on. 

Online Resource Library
Objective:

By December 2022, an additional 500 agricultural professionals will access our online resource library and be better equipped with knowledge, skills and resources to assist farmers with implementing practices to support beneficial birds and manage pest birds. Some professionals will later use these materials when giving trainings themselves. We will compile resources (previously created and newly developed through this project) in a multimedia online library.

Description:

Over the last few months we compiled a list of resources that we have in-hand that will be added to the library once created. In addition, we have outlined how the webpage will be outlined to host the resources.

Outcomes and impacts:

To date we have not held any classes and do not have any outcomes or impacts to report on.

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.