This Western Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Professional Development Program proposal addresses the educational needs of agricultural professionals working with Indian Tribes or Native American producers. While almost every reservation works with a USDA agency and agriculture professional, most programs are not specifically designed for Native American agriculture producers or Indian Tribes. If is extremely important for agriculture professionals to understand the “Indian situation” in order to assist in facilitating the enhancement of environmental quality and natural resources to satisfy a quality of life founded by human food and fiber needs. A focus group in Nevada organized by the Nevada Extension Indian Reservation Program in September 2003 asked agriculture professionals and Tribal representatives to identify problems with getting government programs on the ground on Indian reservations. One of the problems listed by agriculture professionals was that “We don’t understand the Indian situation. Each reservation is different.” This professional development program led by the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension with collaboration from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs and Intertribal Agriculture Council, will have three primary objectives. The objective are 1) To prepare USDA and other ag professionals with the knowledge and understanding of the Tribes or Native American ag producers; 2) To strengthen and increase sustainable ag programming with Tribes and Native American producers in the West by USDA and other ag professionals; and 3) To increase the participation of Tribes or Native American ag producers in the educational programming and services or programs offered by USDA agencies. The target audience for this SARE professional development program will be USDA field personnel including Cooperative Extension, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Rural Development, Farm Service Agency and any other agriculture field personnel interested. However, other University faculty outside of Cooperative Extension and non-profits currently working with Indian Tribes will also be invited to participate. It is anticipated that agriculture professionals will anticipate in Nevada, Idaho, Washington and Oregon. This will be a two-year professional development program project. The first year will be compiling data, including interviews, to create publications and a video. Printing of 1,000 publication and DS’s will occur within the first quarter of the second year. Training workshops will be scheduled in the second year with Nevada, Idaho, Washington and Oregon being the targeted states with at least one training session per state. Workshops may be scheduled in other Western states as time and funding allows.
The research-based information featured in this self-paced curriculum addresses the political, social, and economic environments on Indian reservations within a select four-state area of the northwestern U.S. This program seeks to increase the capacity of agricultural professionals to work as effectively as possible on Indian lands. The intended outcomes of this program include:
1. Increased agricultural professionals’ knowledge and appreciation of the cultural, historical, social, political and economics environments on reservations relevant to developing sustainable agricultural and natural resource education programs on Indian lands;
2. Improved program design and outreach that serves Indian producers, land owners and tribal governments, keeping in mind the infinitely unique characteristics that may be found on a given reservation;
3 Strengthened and/or increased sustainable agricultural and natural resources management programs and practices on Indian reservations; and
4. Increased participation of tribal government and individual Indian agricultural producers and land owners in sustainable agricultural and natural resources management programs