Increasing Agroforestry Adoption and Networking in the Midwest through Targeted Professional Development
In conjunction with the Mid-American Agroforestry Working Group (http://midamericanagroforestry.net), UMCA organized its’ first Agroforestry Academy in Columbia, MO from August 5-9, 2013.
Prior to the start of the August 2013 Agroforestry Academy, the Center’s 2006 Agroforestry Training Manual was revised and updated. In addition, with direct funding support from a MO SARE mini-grant, the Center created a brand new Handbook for Agroforestry Planning and Design. Both of these documents are currently available for download in pdf format on the Center’s website.
Pre- and post-academy surveys were administered to the 27 trainees who attended the Academy. The first two days of the Academy included workshops (comprehensive classroom presentations) on the latest science and practice in support of agroforestry practices plus information intended to assist landowners develop financial budgets for agroforestry practices and market the products they grow. Days three and four consisted of visits to practitioners’ farms with established agroforestry sites along with a “hands-on case study” farm that does not yet contain agroforestry. The academy concluded with an agroforestry design exercise which summed up all the knowledge and experience received during the week. The case study design exercise (with small group presentations and follow up discussions) facilitated experience in the implementation of agroforestry design and encouraged collaborative learning community efforts. The planning process helped participants envision how agroforestry practices can be successfully integrated on a farm. Lunch and dinner also included presentations from a number of agroforestry practitioners, partner agencies and group discussions. All presentations were recorded and will be made available on the Center for Agroforestry website to reach a wider audience and to be available for later use.
The main objectives for the first year of the PDP grant were to create/update the background materials that were used in the Academy (Training Manual and Handbook), to recruit an enthusiastic group of trainees from throughout the Midwest to participate in the Academy, and organize and host the weeklong Academy.
The overall long-term goal of the NCR-SARE PDP is to help achieve on-the-ground adoption of agroforestry.
The objectives of the NCR-SARE PDP are:
1) To create a regional agroforestry knowledge network;
2) Train a core group of individuals who deal with land management issues and/or interact with farmers and landowners; and
3) Facilitate collaboration among researchers, extension personnel, and practitioners, diverse disciplines, departments and colleges, and different agencies and organizations.
The Agroforestry “Train-the Trainer” Academy format was as follows:
Day one and Day Two (active discussion throughout)
Classroom presentations by agroforestry experts
Classroom presentations by farmers who are practicing agroforestry
Day Three and Day Four (active discussion throughout)
Field visitsto agroforestry practitioners’ farms and a “hands-on landowner case study” group project exercise, with field visits focused on agroforestry planning and design.
Day Four Latter Half
Trainees (in groups) design agroforestry plans for hands-on landowner case study visited that morning.
Trainees present agroforestry designs to whole group for discussion and feedback.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Impact was measured with pre- and post- training surveys administered to participants attending the Agroforestry Academy. The surveys were specifically designed to determine participants’ level of satisfaction with the content and organization of the event, to document participants’ gain in knowledge and obtain suggestions for future programming.
The following summary is based on the results of the 27 pre- and post-academy surveys.
Participants were very satisfied with Academy. Overall quality was rated as excellent by 71%, and good by 29%.
The top rated aspects of Academy (on a scale of 1 (unsatisfactory) to 5 (excellent)) were:
Farm visits (4.6); Silvopasture (4.48)
Alley cropping (4.2); Training Manual (4.09)
Forest farming (4.08); Windbreaks (4.08)
Handbook (4.05); Case study (4.0)
Trainees reported substantial gains in subject matter knowledge.
*100% indicated that they benefited from information about agroforestry practices
*96% motivated to continue learning about agroforestry and to disseminate information about agroforestry
*92% motivated to get their organization more involved in agroforestry
*Important benefits from academy participation included:
The network of participants and trainers
Resource materials for future use
Agroforestry Consultant - Former NRCS National Forester
4025 Fletcher Blvd.
Ames, IA 50010
Office Phone: 5152335019
Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management
Iowa State University
242 Science II
Ames, IA 50011
Office Phone: 5152947602