Training Tomorrow's Trainers - A Conference for Students of Sustainable Agriculture

2002 Annual Report for ENC01-057

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2001: $52,928.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2003
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Coordinator:
Chad Kruger
Consortium for Sustainable Agriculture Research &

Training Tomorrow's Trainers - A Conference for Students of Sustainable Agriculture


Agriculture and natural resource college students across the North Central region are our future Extension educators, NRCS conservationists, and leaders. These students expressed an interest in learning about sustainable agriculture concepts and how to increase awareness of sustainable agriculture.

A North Central region conference for students interested in sustainable agriculture was planned and organized by students. The conference provided an opportunity for students to learn about sustainable agriculture concepts, experience on-farm research, and learn from each other.

A result of the conference was the formation of a student council to continue networking and develop plans for future conferences.

Objectives/Performance Targets

1. Two hundred graduate and undergraduate students will participate in the North Central Region Students of Sustainable Agriculture Conference.

2. A resource guide and conference proceedings will be developed for use by students attending the conference and others.

3. A website will be developed to link college students and organizations across the North Central region.

Short-Term Outcomes:
1. Graduate and undergraduate students will become aware of the viability of sustainable agriculture and the importance of farmer-based knowledge.

2. Graduate and undergraduate students will become more knowledgeable of the sustainable agriculture concepts and principles.

3. Students will learn from each other how to:
-strengthen sustainable agriculture curricula on their campuses
-develop projects, events, lectures, etc. that lead to greater awareness by others
-establish gardens, demonstrations, and farms on their campuses

Intermediate Outcomes
1. Students will develop plans on their campuses to build greater awareness of sustainable agriculture.

2. Students will initiate demonstrations, research projects, and events on their campuses.

Long-term Outcomes
1. Students will develop regional networks for communication and sharing of information.

2. As future Extension educators, NRCS employees and leaders, these students will incorporate the concepts of sustainability in their recommendations and actions.


September 2001 – Hired a project assistant .33 FTE for 1 1/3 years.

October 2001 – Project assistant contacted State PDP Coordinators to begin organizing project.

November 2001 – State PDP Coordinators identified student campus organizations and primary contact in the North Central region. Serving on the planning committee included: Ohio State University: Rachel Garrett, Rhonda Gruber, Dave Barker, and Shoshanah Inwood; Iowa State University: Parker Forsell; University of Missouri – Columbia: Erin Feinaur-Whiting and Jose Garcia: Michigan State University: Andy Fogiel and Ann Zerial, University of Wisconsin – Madison: Bill Bland, Jim Lyne, Bridget Holcomb, and Caroline Brock.

November 2002 – Conducted planning committee teleconference of students and advisors serving on planning committee.

December 2001 – January 2002 – Conducted a needs assessment to determine student concerns, interest and level of knowledge and baseline data on present student activities, events, etc. on campuses.

February 2002 – A face-to-face meeting of planning committee was held to: brainstorm ideas, organize the committee, and set subgroup chairs.

March – September 2002 – Held three audio conferences for planning.

March – September 2002 – Held three audio conferences for coordination.

April 2002 – A website was developed and used to announce the conference, receive proposals, and handle conference registration.

May 2002 – Call for proposals for exhibits and displays was announced.

May 2002 – Identified Fred Kirschenmann of the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture as the keynote speaker. Other presenters for workshops and panels were identified.

March – September 2002 – Obtained support from NRCS for tour buses, Michael Fields Agricultural Institute for breaks, UW-Extension and Center for Integrated Agriculture Systems for tote bags, and Midwest Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Education Service for a break. Total support: $3,900.

June – August 2002 – Identified and confirmed local farms and establishments for tours.

September – October 2002 – Promoted and conducted registration for the conference.

September 2002 – Developed conference manual and proceedings. The manual and proceedings had information on sustainable agriculture, and descriptions of breakout sessions, tours, student projects, posters, and displays.

October 25 – 27, 2002 – Students of Sustainable Agriculture Conference was held with 172 registered students, faculty, and presenters.

Plans for the future:

Develop a website for use by students and faculty to exchange ideas and continue dialog.

Conduct an evaluation of the progress toward outcomes with Web-based survey of conference attendees, and interviews with State PDP Coordinators and key students from each campus.

Final report is written and submitted to SARE and other stakeholders.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Training Tomorrow’s Trainers conference for students of sustainable agriculture conference was held October 25 – 27, 2002 at the Lowell Center in Madison, Wisconsin. The conference drew 99 undergraduate students, 36 graduate students, 19 faculty, and 18 presenters for a total attendance of 172.

The conference was attended by a diverse audience with many different backgrounds. A conference evaluation returned by 64 participants indicated their areas of study were: 67% agriculture, 22% environment, 3% international studies, 9% rural sociology, 9% natural resources, and 36% other.

Respondents to the evaluation indicated that the conference was more valuable to them personally (2.9 on a four point scale) then for their studies (2.4 on a four point scale). Respondents noted the following order of conference activities and events they learned most from:
1. Tours
2. Issue workshops
3. Meeting other students
4. Keynote speaker
5. Networking with other campus groups/organizations
6. Learning about other campus activities/organizations
7. Building our communities exercise

A major result of the conference was the formation of a student council to continue networking and develop plans for future conferences. This council will continue the networking across campuses and develop strategies for the development of an annual conference for college interested in sustainable agriculture.


Thomas Parslow

[email protected]
Assistant State Program Leader
Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension
633 Extension Building
432 N. Lake St
Madison, WI 53706
Office Phone: 6082629309