Training for the Pasture Land Management Research Extension – Education Program

2002 Annual Report for ES01-059

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2001: $49,981.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2004
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $36,733.00
Region: Southern
State: Virginia
Principal Investigator:
John Galbraith
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University

Training for the Pasture Land Management Research Extension – Education Program

Summary

A core group of VA and NC extension agents and NRCS staff attended a workshop in January 2002 and trained to serve as local Pasture Land Management System (PLMS) trainers. PLMS users previewed and compared alternative grazing systems. A follow-up questionnaire was sent to all 2001 and 2002 participants after they had used the program. Feedback from the group provided valuable suggestions for improvement in technical areas and user interface. Additional programming was subcontracted to make the improvements. An article was submitted for publication in the Journal of Extension about the training and questionnaire feedback and currently in review.

Objectives/Performance Targets

Train extension agents and NRCS staff in use of PLMS so they can become trainers themselves.
Provide examples of successful rotational grazing systems to trainers and producers.
Educate producers on the comparative advantages of rotational grazing and virtual farm planning.
Establish and enhance the PLMS web site to serve as hub for user questions and feedback.
Improve user understanding of the environmental and economic impacts of grassland production.
Improve information and technology transfer to beef and dairy producers in VA, WV, and NC.
Conduct software evaluation as an avenue to improvement and user acceptance.

Accomplishments/Milestones

Status Mission
Progress Recruit Trainers & Develop/update Training Program
Complete Develop Online Resources
Complete Form Cooperator & Trainer Advisory Board
Complete Post Software and Training Materials on Web
Complete Prepare Evaluations and Survey
Progress Training Sessions
Complete Evaluation of Training and Program Feedback
Complete Trainer Evaluation
Progress Maintain Online Resources
Complete Surveying of Trainees
Complete Collect Case Study Data and Develop Scenarios
Progress Coordinated Training with Extension and NRCS
Progress Project Report Prepared w/Survey Data
Complete Submit journal article about the training
Progress Make improvements following user feedback
Planning Make final improvements to web site and user guide
Planning Offer final training session after software improvement
Planning Distribute copies of PLMS by CD-ROM

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Beef and dairy producers in the Southern Region will benefit from this training activity because of the increased potential use of the decision support system software. The strategy to “train the trainers” has proven to be an efficient way to spread the word about PLMS and to encourage its use. The trainers were made to feel a part of the development team and process, and there was instant buy-in to the program. The enthusiasm shown by the trainers should carry over to the users, who will benefit from the opportunity to preview and compare alternative systems and operation alternatives without outlaying any capital. Hopefully, the advantages of rotational grazing will be evident enough that its use will increase in the region.

Collaborators:

James Green, Jr

Professor
North Carolina State University
Jim Cropper

PA Agronomist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Glenn Johnson

VA State Agronomist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Nick Stone

Professor
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
Ed Rayburn

Extension Forage Specialist
West Virginia University
David Faulkner

VA State Resource Economist
Natural Resources Conservation Service
Ray Smith, Jr.

raysmith@vt.edu
Associate Professor
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
425-B Smyth Hall (0403)
Blacksburg, VA 24061
Office Phone: 5402319590
Gordon Groover

Instructor
Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University