King Conservation District (KCD) and its partners have successfully hosted a Land and Water Stewardship Workshop series (LWSW) for over 20 years, educating nearly 900 landowners in livestock and farm best management practices (BMPs). Each year, KCD holds two workshop series consisting of four classes each, focusing on the topics of riparian buffer management, mud management, manure management, and pasture health management. Each series is enhanced with special topic events where private land managers host peer-to-peer educational farm tours demonstrating KCD-prescribed BMPs. Despite the legacy of success of the LWSW program, KCD has had little opportunity to incorporate recent research into the series and the LWSW curriculum has not had a comprehensive update since 1999.
The purpose of this grant proposal is to update the LWSW curricula with current research. The process will engage KCD education staff, past farm tour hosts (private landowners and livestock producers), and technical staff from partner agencies. KCD will utilize resources from the NW Pasture Management Calendar (EW17-021) and Composted Horse Manure and Stall Bedding Pilot Project (OW11-315) to inform curriculum updates.
The curricula created through this process could be broadly shared with other Washington conservation districts, broadening the impacts of the project and supporting conservation on private lands throughout the state.
To re-imagine the LWSW series, KCD proposes convening a multi-disciplinary panel of conservation education staff, agency partners, and private landowners to review current research, identify key learning objectives related to livestock management, and incorporate the objectives into the curriculum materials. Committee members will review two classes over a one-year period. This process will be repeated the following year so that all four classes are reviewed and restructured from July 2019 to July 2021. By fall of 2021, KCD will implement the new workshops in their entirety. The workshop content and resources will be made available to other Puget Sound Conservation Districts for implementation. For a more detailed outline of the tasks associated with each month, please see the project timeline sheet.
July 2019 to July 2020 – Convene a committee to review current research and re-design pasture and mud management workshops from LWSW. Design evaluation metrics for receiving participant input.
Fall 2020 – Implement LWSW with new pasture and mud management workshops. Hold concurrent farm tours with landowners engaged in the redesign process and highlight relevant research from local Washington State University (WSU) and WSU Extension.
July 2020 to July 2021 – Convene a committee to review and re-design manure management and riparian buffer workshops from LWSW. Assess alignment of pasture and mud management workshops with learning objectives outlined in 2020.
June 2021 – Perform review of all workshop materials and review evaluations from 2020 LWSW cycle to inform necessary updates to all four classes.
Fall 2021 – Implement fully redesigned LWSW workshop.
Educational opportunities are a critical step for livestock managers to implement sustainable farming practices on their properties. Livestock managers must understand the benefits that they will realize on their land, to the environment, the reductions in cost and the improvement in chore efficiency associated with BMP implementation. The Land and Water Stewardship Workshop series has filled this niche in King County since 1999. LWSW workshops are designed to highlight conservation benefits aimed at improving chore efficiency and profitability of small acreage operations. Livestock managers gain knowledge of natural resource concerns and practice planning for BMP implementation.
Twice per year, KCD and its partners host LWSW series. Due to staff time and budget constraints, the program only has the resources necessary to implement the workshops and staff have not had the capacity for curriculum evaluation and improvement since 1999. Although the concepts are still relevant and critical for livestock owners to understand if they desire a sustainable operation, several portions of the curricula have outdated resources or make assumptions that may no longer be accurate. By evaluating LWSW through the lens of SARE research, land managers will gain access to the highest quality resources and the best available science to solve natural resource concerns within this established and recognized program.
With funding from this opportunity, KCD will convene multi-disciplinary curriculum review committee to evaluate LWSW in the context of SARE research and analyze how priorities and regulatory environments have changed since the LWSW curriculum was designed. KCD will utilize its network of farm tour hosts, local farmers, and livestock managers who are actively implementing these practices to determine which features are most helpful and relevant and which can be eliminated from the curriculum. Regular partners, including King County Department of Natural Resources (Noxious Weed and Livestock Programs), and WSU Extension King County, will be engaged to provide expert advice and additional input. KCD will also pursue other partners as relevant.
This project will combine a legacy of LWSW programmatic success, established local partnerships, and livestock manager engagement with local research recommendations to produce a curriculum that can be piloted in King County and shared regionally with Western Washington Conservation District partners.
Land and Water Stewardship Workshops provide livestock owners information on stewarding natural resources on their properties by bringing in experts in the fields of managing buffers, mud, manure, and pastures. Expert presentations, hands-on demonstrations, and property-specific exercises help each attendee better understand how to take what they have learned in the class and tailor it to their own property needs.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Livestock owners understand how to manage buffers, mud, manure, and pastures on their property. Attendees can take what they learn in the workshops home and implement changes to improve soil health and water quality.
The series of four Land and Water Stewardship workshops for livestock owners provides attendees with the background knowledge, hands-on demonstrations, and topic-specific exercises to make changes on their own property to improve natural resources.
Buffers: Livestock owners understand the importance of creating a buffer between the shorelines on their property and the land use practices. Livestock owners understand their options for creating vegetated buffers, keeping livestock out of creeks/streams, and how the importance of off-channel watering.
Mud Management: Livestock owners understand the negative impacts mud can have on their animals health and the environment. Livestock owners learn how to manage mud, options for diverting water, and benefits creating sacrifice areas for their animals.
Manure Management: Livestock owners understand the importance of composting manure and options for building on-farm composting. Connections are made between mud and manure management to help livestock owners understand implications for animal health and water quality.
Pasture Management: Livestock owners understand the benefits of rotational grazing and ways to keep their pasture healthy. Attendees learn how to identify and remove common pasture weeds.