Sustainable Agriculture Distance Learning

1997 Annual Report for ENC97-002.2

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 1997: $57,700.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2000
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $28,850.00
Region: North Central
State: North Dakota
Project Coordinator:
Thomas Hanson
North Dakota State University

Sustainable Agriculture Distance Learning


Objectives of this project include:

1) To expand Extension agents' and federal and state agency field staffs' understanding of critical sustainable agriculture biological topics.

2) To offer high quality interactive instruction in an effective manner, convenient for instructors and students.

3) To expand the utilization of sustainable agriculture concepts in the programming carried out by agriculture and students.

4) To increase interaction between the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Extension, and producers that practice sustainable agriculture concepts.

Three training sessions have been completed, including Holistic Resource Management (65 participants), Alternative Marketing Methods (51 participants), and Intensive Grazing Management (27 participants). These sessions have used the two-way video systems in both Dakotas, enabling use of an out-of-state instructor and producers who could conveniently drive to a nearby site. Agents and others taking the training are appreciative of the reduced travel distances with this system. Evaluations of the completed sessions have indicated a high degree of satisfaction with the material presented and the delivery system. College seniors have also participated, with reports on special projects. Significant hand-out materials have been circulated at the individual sites during the training.

Evaluations received for the sessions indicated, for the most part, satisfaction with the material presented and the IVN/RDTN system. Requests for a tape of the sessions have been received. Sessions similar to the ones given have been offered to producers through Extension programming. Several instructors involved have since been invited to participate in Extension sponsored events involving producers regarding the topic areas discussed in the training sessions.

This educational effort gave some excellent material, but was hampered by the two-way video/audio systems in the two states and their interaction, coupled with telephone and two-way feeds from out of the Dakotas. This electronic method of distance learning functioned below standard on two of the three programs. More rancher/farmer participation was sought for the final session, but producers were busy with livestock and could not break free.