- Agronomic: corn, soybeans, grass (misc. perennial), hay
- Additional Plants: native plants
- Animal Production: feed/forage
- Crop Production: agroforestry
- Education and Training: demonstration, workshop
- Energy: bioenergy and biofuels, energy conservation/efficiency, wind power
- Sustainable Communities: public policy
This project provided training on alternative energy topics to extension professionals, educators, and agency personnel in Missouri, Iowa, and Illinois. The first annual conference (December 5, 2008) featured 13 speakers addressing grassy biomass, woody biomass, wind energy, financing bioenergy projects, and case studies of bioenergy enterprises. A second conference (December 4, 2009) addressed alternative oilseeds for biofuels, anaerobic digestion/methane capture from livestock manure, algae for biofuel, biomass feedstocks handling, and bioenergy policy, with 12 presenters and 6 additional demonstrations or exhibits. Short-term outcomes of the project were increased knowledge of a broad range of bioenergy topics among extension, educational and resource professionals in attendance; intermediate-term outcomes were presentations, curricular integration, and client presentations made by these attendees; long-term outcomes were reexamination by agricultural producers of their farming operations and practices.
The short-term outcomes of the training were:
• increased awareness among participants of the selected topics (woody biomass crops, grass/legume cellulosic biomass feedstocks, wind energy, alternative oilseeds for biofuels, anaerobic digestion/methane capture from livestock manure, and composting of livestock manure/bedding),
• increased knowledge of the applicability of technologies/practices to producers in their service area, improved attitudes toward alternative energy technologies, and
• increased skill/ability to deliver information on alternative energy to clients using acquired resources and knowledge.
The project goal was that 85 percent of workshop participants in each year would show a gain in awareness, knowledge, and confidence in their skill/ability to deliver bioenergy program information, as measured by an increase in their confidence score on at least 50 percent of the knowledge survey items from pre-workshop to post-workshop.
Intermediate-term outcomes were program presentations, client consultations, and curricular integration of information on alternative energy by participants. The intermediate outcome goal was that 85 percent of workshop participants who received a scholarship to participate would conduct at least one outreach program (field day, presentation, etc.) or develop and present one curricular unit in an instructional setting within one year of attending the conference.
The ultimate long-term project goal was farms contributing to agricultural and energy sustainability by conserving energy, contributing to generation of non-biomass renewable energy, participating in production of biofuel feedstocks that offer a higher net energy yield than corn-ethanol, and capturing a significant share of the profits from these energy generation efforts. True evaluation of such outcomes is beyond the scope of this project. Therefore, the long-term outcome goal for the project will be farmers, ranchers, and landowners who have received information on new techniques or practices covered in project workshops and evaluated these techniques/practices (whether adopted or only considered) in light of their impact on the economic, ecological, and social (quality of life) sustainability of their operation.