Advanced Training in Sustainable Production Systems in the Northern Great Plains

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2003: $63,556.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: North Central
State: South Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Roger Gates
SDSU Extension

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, mentoring, networking, study circle
  • Farm Business Management: cooperatives
  • Pest Management: field monitoring/scouting
  • Sustainable Communities: social networks, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Community based agriculture advisors (CBAA), both from the Cooperative Extension Service and Natural Resource Conservation Service, have requested additional training in sustainable livestock production. This training is valuable to improving the viability and functionality of rural communities. This proposal is focused on long-term outcomes of having CBAA work in integrative teams to help producers improve profitability and sustainability of ranching, to have producers trust and utilize CBAA as coaches in making complex management decisions, and for improved CBAA job satisfaction and longevity. In an intermediate time frame, CBAA will gain knowledge and confidence in teaching components and complexities of ranching systems, and they will develop integrative teams and networks of clientele to work with. In the short-term, CBAA will gain understanding of adult education and presentation skills. They will become more comfortable with basic concepts of ranch management, range management, livestock production, complex systems, and teach/coach/mentor methodology. They will begin a process of using integrative teams to solve problems, while gaining an awareness of the complexities of production systems and needs of producers. The program will involve three major activities. Initially, trainers will develop a ranch-planning guide (notebook and CD) to be used as a resource and to establish curriculum for the training. In the second activity, CBAA will be asked to put together a teaching session on a topic in sustainable production. An oral presentation will be made at one of two workshop sessions, and CBAA will write and publish an Extension publication on the topic. Trainers will review teaching material, and feedback will be given to participants. The workshops will not only be used to enhance teaching and presentation skills of CBAA, but they will be designed to teach important principles in sustainable production systems. In the third activity, CBAA will develop and implement the use of interagency integrative teams to develop holistic management plans for a farm/ranch business in their region. They will present these plans, receive feedback, and finally prepare a formal presentation and written document outlining the plan. Evaluation will begin with questionnaires after each activity, so that mid-term adjustments can be made if necessary. A manuscript outlining program curriculum will be submitted to a refereed journal. In the short-term, success of presentations and writings will be documented and reviewed. CBAA will develop strategic plans for use of the training in programming and advising efforts. In an intermediate time period, surveys will be sent to participants of the program and their supervisors to determine impact of the program. Evaluation will continue long-term, with program instructors involved in annual team meetings to track success of regional teams. The proposed program will provide valuable training to CBAA that will initiate an approach to teaching and advising that can propagate over time. We expect this program will have substantial long-term impacts on production systems.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Short-Term Outcomes:
    ·Producers increase use of CBAA, management tools, and information in decision-making
    ·Producers help train teams to analyze complex systems
    ·CBAA improve their awareness, understanding of key factors in sustainability
    ·CBAA develop strategic plans to incorporate production system knowledge into programs
    ·CBAA develop working relationships with other CBAA in ND and SD
    ·CBAA understand adult ed, information dissemination
    ·CBAA enhance presentation skills
    ·CBAA encourage/invite new participants to the training
    ·Specialists, CBAA, and producers develop feedback mechanism to monitor program successes

    Intermediate Outcomes:
    ·Producers improve decision-making capabilities
    ·CBAA gain knowledge/confidence to teach components and interrelationships of ranching systems
    ·CBAA develop network of coaches
    ·CBAA use teach/coach/mentor in programming and teaching efforts
    ·CBAA develop regional integrative teams to work with producers to improve sustainability of ranching
    ·New participants brought into program, teams continually strengthened

    Long-Term Outcomes:
    ·Sustainability of farms and ranches is enhanced
    ·Producers trust CBAA and use to solve production problems
    ·Producers use CBAA as coaches in analyzing complex systems, identifying key leverage points
    ·CBAA experience job satisfaction, improve longevity in their positions

    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.