2018 Washington State University PDP Project

Final report for WSP17-015

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $38,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2019
Grant Recipient: Washington State University
Region: Western
State: Washington
State Coordinators:
Tara Zimmerman
Washington State University
Co-Coordinators:
Chad Kruger
Washington State University
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:
  • In 2019, Washington’s sustainable agriculture PDP program included a wide range of topics such as: soil health, Cultivating Success curriculum training, data visualization for decision support tools, nutrition education, agricultural drainage and agricultural water regulation in the Puget Sound, cultivation in small-scale vegetable production, and rangeland resilience.  In 2019, based on opportunities we shifted toward more “hosted” events and fewer single “attendee” events, but the focus remained on targeted educational events reached agricultural professionals who gained knowledge and/or skills in one or more of these topics that could in turn lead to specific, improved extension and educational activities and curriculum.

 

Project Objectives:

Short-term. We aim to increase the awareness, knowledge, and skills of at least 200 ag professionals in areas related to their expertise and local needs for the improvement of the agricultural sustainability of their operations and clientele (via mini-grants and educational
events). We aim to increase the awareness and knowledge of 50 extension educators about three sustainable agriculture topics in Washington State (via educational materials/webinars).
Medium-term. We aim to increase the quality of sustainable agriculture programs and events in the state of Washington (via mini-grants and educational events). Using mini-grants and educational events, we aim to increase ag professionals’ ability to answer questions from their
clientele on sustainable agriculture related activities, especially those identified as needs. We aim to improve the ag professionals’ ability to assist their clientele in adopting sustainable agriculture practices in the future (via educational materials). We aim to increase the number of extension educators associated with the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (via all activities).

Introduction:

The Washington State PDP is part of the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources. The PDP program gives priority to projects that address top needs in our state according to a recent survey of past and potential recipients of PDP funds. Priority topic areas include livestock management, natural resources, soil/fertility, waste management, crop protection, and climate change, among others. However, in Washington there are a limited number of field personnel working in any one technical/geographical area or farming system. Therefore, we have focused on giving mini-grants to individuals so that they can take advantage of educational events put on by professional organizations or regional/national events.

The goal of our PDP is to help WSU Extension, NRCS, Conservation Districts and other agency personnel gain knowledge and skills that will help them serve their constituents to promote the health of Washington’s people, land, and communities.

Advisors

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Jim Baird
  • Trudy Bialic
  • Dan Coyne
  • Kevin Corliss
  • Tim Crosby
  • Laurie Davies
  • Nichole Embertson
  • Dale Gies
  • Miles McEvoy
  • Leslie Michel
  • Warren Morgan
  • Doug Poole
  • Maurice Robinette
  • Rick Roeder
  • Derek Sandison
  • Anne Schwartz
  • Jill Smith
  • Bill Warren
  • Andy Wilcox

Education

Educational approach:

A combination of mini-grants for hosting and attending sustainable agriculture activities, and targeted educational events to reach agricultural professionals were used. 

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Sustainable Agriculture mini-grants
Objective:

We aim to increase the awareness, knowledge, and skills of at least 200 ag professionals in areas related to their expertise and local needs for the improvement of the agricultural sustainability of their operations and clientele (via mini-grants for travel and educational events). We aim to increase the awareness and knowledge of 50 extension educators about three sustainable agriculture topics in Washington State (via educational materials/webinars).

Description:

The Washington State PDP is part of the WSU Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources. The PDP program gives priority to projects that address top needs in our state according to a recent survey of past and potential recipients of PDP funds. Priority topic areas include livestock management, natural resources, soil/fertility, waste management, crop protection, and climate change, among others. However, in Washington there are a limited number of field personnel working in any one technical/geographical area or farming system. Therefore, we have focused on giving mini-grants to individuals so that they can take advantage of educational events put on by professional organizations or regional/national events.

The goal of our PDP is to help WSU ExtensionNRCS, Conservation Districts and other agency personnel gain knowledge and skills that will help them serve their constituents to promote the health of Washington’s people, land, and communities.

Outcomes and impacts:

Travel Scholarship events (known as “Attending” grants)

  • Sonia Hall attended the Resilience for Land and Livestock Conference where she learned why ranchers pursue innovations and the level of detail that they need to think through, plan and implement when they are trying something new in their management. She will use this knowledge in the development of a series of PNW rangeland resiliency case studies that describe a specific ranching operation, and includes a description of the rancher’s story, why they invested in a particular management approach or practice, and the benefits and challenges that arose from it.

  • Hossein Noorazar attended a data visualization training where he learned new techniques in the field of data visualization to improved data presentation and visualization for sharing complex climate change results with ag professionals as part of our climate data decision aids programming. Our data analysis insights are typically shared through reports, webinars, seminars, and web applications that can reach 100s of individuals.

  • Dianne Smith attended the Society for Nutrition Education (SNEB)/Division of Sustainable Food Systems Conference. She participated in a session describing a new curriculum “Future of Food: A Sustainable Food Systems Curriculum for Nutrition Education which was released in the Fall of 2018 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. She plans to develop a lesson plan/curriculum on plant-based diet will be targeted to the consumer and reach a national audience through the WSU publication portal. I will pilot the lesson plans/curriculum with community members, reaching 25 over the next year.

  • Nate Stacey attended the “Healthy Soils, Healthy Region Workshop”. He learned that soil health researchers generally agree upon a set of metrics that reasonably represent soil physical, chemical, and biological conditions which, can be used to assess soil health, but that a gap in understanding still exists between researchers and others who must interpret or conduct the soil health assessments (e.g., conservation districts and lab personnel, respectively) and others who may implement strategies to improve soil health, like farmers. He will use this new knowledge in four outreach events planned for small and diversified farms in 2020 and 2021, likely reach 225 individuals.

Events (including educational events, “Hosting” grants, and webinars)

  • Ag Drainage Workshop – CSANR and the Washington Stormwater Center hosted a one-day conference to convene ag professionals from Puget Sound regional organizations working on agricultural drainage issues to share challenges, solutions, lessons learned, and begin to set the stage for potential future collaborations. The conference facilitated conversations between staff, enhanced access to resources (research funding, government agency staff), and began to organize a network of folks working to address similar challenges of agricultural drainage.

  • Healthy Soils, Healthy Region – CSANR hosted the Healthy Soils, Healthy Region Workshop in collaboration with the Washington State Conservation Commission. The goals were to Improve awareness of existing tools that can be used to promote soil health management; identify regional soil health priorities and strategize about how to address them; showcase ongoing regional projects that support improved soil health; and explore regional solutions to build climate resilience through managing for soil health.

  • Cultivation Field Day – Doug Collins hosted a Weed Ecology and Mechanical Control Field Day in concert with Oregon State University to introduce both extension faculty, conservation district staff, and producers to new and evolving technology available for management of weeds in small-scale vegetable producers in the PNW.

  • Cultivating Success Instructor Training – Nicole Witham from the WSU Food Systems Program hosted a Cultivating Success TM Instructor Training for WA and ID Extension professionals, Conservation District staff, and other community partner organizations in Washington and Idaho currently offering or interested in offering Cultivating Success TM (a sustainable small farms curricula) in their counties.

  • Farming in the Floodplain Site Tour and Training – Jordan Jobe hosted a site tour and training for Extension faculty to better understand the complex challenges associated with supporting sustainable agriculture activities in the context of water resource management challenges in an urbanizing watershed. We toured both farms and environmental restoration sites, spoke with regulators and practitioners in the watershed, and discussed the implications for future educational activities.

Educational & Outreach Activities

9 Minigrants
1 On-farm demonstrations
1 Tours
4 Travel Scholarships
3 Workshop field days
1 We held a Cultivating Success Instructor Training on July 30th, 2019. The primary audience for this full day intensive instructor training are WA and ID Extension professionals currently offering or interested in offering Cultivating Success TM (a sustainable small farms curricula) in their counties. The secondary audiences are Extension partners, such as Conservation District staff, and other community partner organizations interested in collaborating and being involved in Cultivating Success programs as co-hosts and guest speakers.

Participation Summary

72 Extension
39 NRCS
51 Farmers/ranchers
264 Others

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

5 New working collaborations
4 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
51 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Success stories:

 

Puget Sound Agricultural Drainage Workshop – the first of it’s kind bringing together public and private sector parties to ensure agricultural viability and sustainability while addressing water quality management in the Puget Sound.

Approximately 75 people who work in some capacity to manage, improve, or permit work related to agricultural drainage issues, including staff from Counties, Conservation Districts, Drainage/Diking/Irrigation District Commissioners or Employees, non-profit agriculture-focused organizations, University research and extension, and staff from relevant governmental agencies (DFW, Ecology, etc.) participated in a first of a kind workshop on agricultural drainage in the Puget Sound. There were approximately 9 extension staff/faculty and or students, and 14 from Conservation Districts. Most participants seemed to connect with multiple new contacts who could help them in their work, most were exposed to new information about climate change impacts on ag water management, “fish-friendly” pumps/infrastructure, and learned about multiple structures for managing ag drainage in different regions. Many folks connected with individuals with different viewpoints (on climate change, on the necessity of permitting, on approaches to the Streamflow Restoration Act) and felt they had new, helpful information about these topics which would support sustainable agriculture systems in the Puget Sound Region. In general, attendees felt that this conference heightened the importance of tackling agricultural drainage on a regional scale (in addition to a hydrologic basin/parcel level) and indicated interest in further conversations and opportunities. We hope that each attendee left with some new information (about climage change, DD management, etc.) that will help them in their work, and for those who are not farmers/growers, that they have a better sense of how important ag drainage is for agricultural viability and sustainability, and are clearer on how their work can support improved ag drainage.

 

Outcomes of the workshop include:

 *WDFW expressed interest in hosting a “listening session” for farmers, landowners, and drainage district commissioners so that DFW staff can better understand how to serve this clientele.

*Washington Department of Ecology staff expressed interest in having follow-up conversations about the Streamflow Restoration Act with individuals, districts, and interested staff.

*The final session was 5 facilitated small groups, and each group suggested several next steps/follow-up actions that they recommended for each of the topics (Climate Change, Cross County Coordination/Collaboration, Permitting/Maintenance, Infrastructure, and the Streamflow Restoration Act.)

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

Most of our project funds are used for minigrants for events or conference travel.  All minigrant recipients are asked to acknowledge SARE in their event materials. During 2019 we really focused our efforts on “hosted” events that were focused on building capacity of extension and partnering ag professionals who will be developing activities and products for farmers or who oversee issues impacting ag sustainability and viability.

 

51 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
426 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
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.