Final report for WSP18-016
The results of a recent survey of past and potential recipients of the SARE State Program funds indicated a broad array of topic interests and needs including livestock management topics, natural resource topics, soil and fertility, waste management, crop protection and climate change, among others. When possible, we funded activities in these areas. However, because the number of field personnel working in any one technical or geographical area, or farming system in Washington is limited, it is often not cost effective to organize local or state events to meet their needs. 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 to events that can attract a sufficient number of participants because they are regional or national.
Mini-grants: We spent $14,000 on mini-grants to support hosting ($5000 each max.) or attending ($1000 each max.) a conference, workshop, or training program related to sustainable agriculture. Priority was given to proposals for activities that relate to our state’s priority information needs. We used mini-grant and travel scholarship forms modified from those on the WSARE website for our program.
Educational Events: WA State Farm to School, Digital Ag Workshop & Hackathon, Dairy Practitioner Outreach Trainings, BIOAg Symposium
Educational materials: We used $4330 to support the SARE State Program coordinator who will provide technical support and expertise in the production of webinars and other emerging communication tools covering sustainable agriculture topics.
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).
Mini-grants were awarded for both attending and hosting agriculture professional trainings, workshops, and conferences. Educational events were conducted to reach agriculture professionals directly.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
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).
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, animals, land, and communities.
Travel Scholarship Events (“Attending Mini-Grants”)
- Nate Stacey attended the Data Carpentry Workshop to learn and improve data management skills with the R computing program. This knowledge will be used to complete an extension publication on soil health and cover cropping as a means of sustainable agriculture. Data, collected from several years and locations will be collated, organized, analyzed, and then communicated in an easily digestible format using the R program.
- While 2 other attending grants were allocated, both conferences were cancelled due to COVID-19 and recipients decided to postpone the use of funds.
Events (including educational events, “Hosting” grants, and webinars):
- Washington State Farm to School Network Planning Workshop: The Washington State Farm to School Network, with the support of the WSU Food Systems team and WSU CSANR and WSARE Mini-grant, organized an “Action Planning Retreat" on Oct. 23 with Network leads and key stakeholders. Attendees reflected on the Network's progress growing farm to school, made some key decisions about the Network’s structure, and identified next steps for the Network initiative to support and grow farm to school impacts across the state to increase farmer sales to schools, school garden and farm-based education, and agriculture and nutrition education in the classroom. The event was also a networking opportunity for members and farm to school practitioners to meet one another, build relationships and potential collaboration to strengthen their programs.
- Digital Agriculture Workshop & Hackathon: Multiple disciplines combined expertise and skills together in an experiential workshop to develop and apply new skills in data management, interpretation, and visualization for challenges affecting the sustainability of agriculture in Washington state. Team members have implemented these learned skills in developing the climate analog visualization tool that is being tested with extension specialists nationwide and that is funded through a USDA NIFA project.
- Dairy Practitioner Outreach: Topics covered included summary findings from a fecal microbiota transplant project as an alternative therapy for calf GI disease. Additionally, results were presented from investigations into preweaned calf disease covered clinical pathology, differential gene expression, thoracic ultrasonography, and necropsy findings.
The aim of this event was to allow researchers a forum to share current results in sustainable agriculture and future considerations with extension educators and other agricultural professionals. Researchers highlighted the theme “The Intersection of Agriculture and Human Health: Developing Opportunities for Research and Education”.
This symposium highlighted “The Intersection of Agriculture and Human Health: Developing Opportunities for Research and Education”, with a panel discussion and poster presentations from WSU faculty, graduate students, and collaborators. All faculty, ag professionals, and the public were invited to join in this event and learn how agriculture research can address major questions in sustainability, including human health. Priority topic areas of livestock management, natural resources, soil/fertility, waste management, crop protection, and climate change were addressed in poster presentations.
Both scientists and students presented finding from CSANR’s BioAg funded projects, with a special emphasis on the connection between sustainable agriculture and human health. Attendees not only received direct information about advances in sustainable ag within crop and livestock systems, but also had the chance to interact with the scientists. This allowed for greater understanding of the material and potential guidance on how to better fit projects to real world issues. This event facilitated productive discussion on pathways forward for sustainable ag, increased professional networking, and communicated innovative science to a broader audience.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Because of the Farm to School Network Workshop & Planning Retreat, these events were able to happen. People working on farm to school activities around the state met to build local momentum and partnerships through the network! The “Regional Farm to School Gatherings” were co-hosted by WSDA and other members of the Washington State Farm to School Network.
More than 150 people attended the six gatherings in Chelan, Federal Way, Spokane, Walla Walla, Brush Prairie, and Mount Vernon, held between May and June 2019. At each event, WSDA farm to school facilitated training and networking for food producers and school nutrition staff to encourage buying and serving more Washington-grown foods. Then school gardeners, farm educators, agriculture teachers, and other farm to school supporters and network members joined the events to meet one another, learn about local farm to school efforts, and forge and strengthen local connections.
Face of SARE
Most of our project funds are used for mini-grants for events or conference travel. All mini-grant recipients are asked to acknowledge SARE in their event materials. We 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.