Training for the Pasture Land Management Research Extension – Education Program

2003 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

During 2003, the Pasture Land Management System (PLMS) development team used a set of six students interested in forages and grazing to test the current version of the software. The students were given a short tutorial, given copies of the software, and asked to present a slideshow to the group one week later showing any apparent errors or needed improvements in the program. In return, the students were enrolled in a 1-credit special studies course. The test results were compiled and submitted to the PLMS programmer and the changes were made to improve the program. An article was submitted and accepted for publication in the Journal of Extension about the 2001 training and questionnaire feedback.
Galbraith, J.M., Stone, N.D., Groover, G.E., Bruce, F.A., Jr., and G.B. Benson. 2003. Training professionals in use of Pasture Land Management System (PLMS) decision support system. J. Extension (accepted 28 Aug 2003 for on-line journal).
The contract has been extended without cost to SARE in order to continue improving PLMS and to provide additional training sessions. In addition, the software will be submitted to the USDA Interoperability Lab (http://www.sci.usda.gov/cce/index.html) and to Microsoft® in order to gain Common Computing Environment certification so that USDA employees can install the software on their computers. The PLMS web site was moved and updated and a complete on-line user’s guide was developed for users.

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
Complete Project Report Prepared w/Survey Data
Complete Submit journal article about the training
Progress Make improvements following user feedback
Complete Make final improvements to web site and user guide
Progress Offer final training session after software improvement
Progress Distribute copies of PLMS by CD-ROM
Progress Make additional improvements to PLMS
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. Significant improvements in the user’s guide, web site, and stability of the software have been made and the software has been submitted for CCE certification at the USDA Interoperability Lab and to Microsoft®.

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