Enhancing professional development opportunities to improve technical capacity of Indiana conservation delivery professionals

Project Overview

ENC18-175
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2018: $74,959.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Grant Recipient: Mike Smith
Region: North Central
State: Indiana
Project Coordinator:
Mike Smith
Conservation Technology Information Center

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Education and Training: networking, workshop

    Proposal abstract:

    This project will provide professional development opportunities for conservation practitioners in Indiana that will
    improve the delivery of conservation information and drive the adoption of beneficial conservation systems on
    Indiana cropland. The project will work with the Hoosier Chapter of the Soil and Water Conservation Society to
    augment and leverage their successful professional development program to provide focused conservation
    outreach to their broad and diverse membership of conservation practitioners. Participants from professional
    development events will be surveyed to better understand the effectiveness of the training and the extent to which
    training events help improve delivery of conservation information to Indiana farmers and landowners. Also,
    participants will be surveyed to better understand how they use the information learned to change landowner
    behavior towards adoption of conservation practices on the landscape. Information from these surveys will
    improve future professional development events and be presented to the Hoosier Chapter and other conservation
    partners in Indiana, so that they can use the recommendations to improve events well into the future.
    Also, this project will work to connect conservation practitioners with Extension experts from Purdue so that there
    is a better awareness of the resources that each group offers to help drive the application of conservation
    practices on Indiana farmland. These expanded relationships will help both sides better understand how they can
    help one another to improve delivery of conservation information by improving awareness of one another’s
    strengths and awareness of their programs and priorities.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    There are three main areas where technical service providers and extension specialists will gain in knowledge,
    actions and conditions relative to helping improve the adoption of conservation on Indiana cropland.
    Conservation practitioners will gain in knowledge relative to priority conservation systems at 4 professional
    development opportunities that will be organized by this project. The knowledge and skills presented during the
    events will mirror agency and organization priorities and ultimately benefit the participants’ ability to provide
    improved and focused outreach and education to landowners around these priorities. With this advanced
    knowledge, the practitioners will employ the tools and techniques learned during the training events to enhance
    their outreach to farmers and landowners whom they advise. Finally, because of the improved ability to provide
    outreach and education to landowners using new skills and technical information learned at the professional
    development events, it is expected that conservationists will host more productive consultations with landowners,
    which will lead to additional conservation practices and systems being used by farmers and landowners on their
    land. These metrics of knowledge gained, knowledge used and the impact of the training sessions on the overall
    behavioral change of farmers and landowners towards using more conservation systems will be measured by
    surveying attendees from the training opportunities presented. Through these professional development events,it is expected that 300 people will receive information on conservation practices and systems that can be applied
    to improving conservation delivery to landowners.
    Secondly, through a networking and sharing meeting organized as a part of this project, extension specialists and
    conservation practitioners will be brought together to share information relative to one another’s priorities and
    skills. As a result, each will be more aware of the other’s priorities and programs and will have a better chance of
    working together more often to benefit conservation in Indiana. Awareness of one another’s programs and
    priorities leads to greater collaboration on areas where they overlap, which leads to more information and
    resources being shared that will benefit the adoption of conservation practices on the landscape in Indiana.
    Finally, as a result of the information sharing and networking meeting organized by this project, extension
    specialists will be encouraged to share information with conservation practitioners about research that is ongoing
    at Purdue relative to soil and water conservation. It is expected that as specialists work with practitioners and
    learn from them at the networking meeting, practitioners can share gaps in knowledge and resources that will help
    them achieve greater adoption of conservation practices and systems that will benefit soil health and water
    quality. As specialists learn the needs and knowledge gaps of Indiana conservation practitioners, they can reach
    out to other researchers and specialists to explore the key questions with other researchers and experts and can
    share information back to the practitioners. Also, over the longer-term, extension specialists can take the
    knowledge learned from practitioners to influence research topics at Purdue to begin filling key knowledge gaps.
    However, this is likely a longer-term effort than will be captured during the 27-month duration of this project.

    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.