In-Service Training on Sustainable Animal Agriculture
The focus of this project was an in-service training conference for extension colleagues from around New England who conduct educational programs for dairy and livestock producers.
Participants at the October, 1996 training conference learned new information about sustainable grain production, alternatives to antibiotics, nutrient management, composting, recycling, water quality protection, and direct marketing of milk. Participants, surveyed four months after the conference, also report using this information in newsletters, group presentations and individual contacts.
1. Provide a training experience on technology transfer for New England extension colleagues who routinely conduct educational programs with dairy and livestock producers.
2. Share knowledge of sustainable animal production practices and projects happening around New England.
3. Share experiences about innovative ways for learning to take place among dairy and livestock producers.
4. Share information on assessing the educational impacts of extension programs aimed at dairy and livestock producers.
Activities and Results
The major focus of this project was an in-service training conference for extension colleagues from around New England who conduct educational programs for dairy and livestock producers.
This conference occurred on October 24-25, 1996 at The Lake Morey Inn, Fairlee, VT. The program included 13 short presentations about sustainable agriculture projects and practices going on in New England, with an emphasis on those practices that relate to animals. Breakout sessions looked at whole farm analysis, assessing impacts of extension programs, increasing access to extension, and new program delivery methods. The climax of the conference was the sharing of experiences from around New England in the following four areas: how to teach holistic farm analysis; innovative ideas for assessing impacts of extension programs; ways for producers to increase access to extension staff; and assessment of new program delivery.
A proceedings summarizing each of the presentations as well as discussions in the concurrent sessions was published and distributed to participants.
There were 68 participants, exceeding the planning committee’s goal of 50. All six New England states were represented. The majority of Extension personnel (44) who conduct educational programs for livestock and dairy producers attended the conference. Other participants included representatives of the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Farm Service Agency, and producers. Four months after the conference, participants were surveyed.
They were asked to evaluate the conference and indicate ways how it was impacting their programs with producers. About twenty percent of the surveys were returned. Responses indicated thatparticipants had already used information they gained at the conference in newsletter articles and presentations. Survey responses also suggest that participants would like an activity like this repeated regularly, every year or two, and would like presentations on cutting-edge information and technology.
Participants also suggested that any future training include more farmers, who serve as a source of excellent ideas for future programs and also as a sounding board.
Project coordinator Calvin Walker believes the potential benefits will be felt for some time. “Some impacts don’t occur for months or even years later. For example, in my own programming, I am still seeing the impact of some of the presentations from this conference. I have used information from six of 13 presentations.
I have been better able to answer producer requests for information on soybean production, mycotoxins, and antibiotic alternatives. I also helped producers solve problems on biosolids management and water quality.”
Reported November 1997.