Putting it all together: using livestock to manage natural resources
1. To teach educators, through attendance at a training conference and receiving learning modules, about using livestock to manage natural resources with a particular emphasis in the subject areas of small ruminants, grass-fed beef production, pasture-based dairy production, transitioning to organics, and fine tuning of grazing management.
• Ten educators from each of the states in the Southern region will participate in one of the two training conferences.
• Educators will have the opportunity for individual follow-up to help them develop their own programs in working with local producers.
• Workshop attendees will learn to use and interpret monitoring tools that producers can use to make changes in their operations.
• Learning modules will provide review materials and visuals to reinforce skills after the training conferences.
2. To provide producers with the help they need to utilize and sustain their natural resources.
• Educators will identify producers in their areas to work with using current information in the checksheets and other SARE-funded work as well as providing practical monitoring tools.
• Thirty producers will benefit from this project by either being part of the advisory panel, attending and teaching at the workshops, and/or working with educators on their own operations
3. To allow producers the opportunity of teaching educators what they have learned when applying the information in the checksheets to their own farms.
• Educators and farmers will learn how producers can set up monitoring tools on their own farms, and what they look for in determining how they work and, more importantly, what decisions they make as a result of the monitoring.
4. To help 1890s schools disseminate their research results to more educators and farmers in the Southern region.
• Educators and farmers in the Southern region will receive excellent practical research results to achieve the goal of managing their resources more effectively.
• Networking between these universities and other educators and farmers in the Southern region will result in better understanding of what these universities offer.
• Educators from 1890s schools will have the opportunity to learn techniques they can use with their farmer groups.
Heifer Ranch staff and interns conducted monitoring and management work on fine-tuning grazing work with stocker cattle and transition to organics with sheep flock during summer, 2004. A summary of this work were presented by Paul Casey at the Southern SAWG annual meeting in January 2005.
In late August, 2004, the principle investigator on the project resigned from NCAT. The first training conference had been set for early November, 2004, but timing of the staff transition halted progress on the project temporarily. This meant that the training conference had to be postponed until new staffing could be determined for the project. Because the Heifer Ranch facility is in such high demand as a learning site, the new date was set for the first available set of dates, May 23-26, 2005.
In January and February, 2005, original participants in the grant(farmers, extensionists, other agency staff, university representatives) were contacted personally to determine availability and interest in participating as a speaker, field presenter, panelist or in another role. About 50% of those contacted wished to continue participating in the project.
In March, 2005, major speakers from outside NCAT were confirmed in the technical topics areas including previous SARE grant partcipants. 3 NCAT staff members agreed to be speakers, contributors to technical materials and planning team members: Tim Johnson, Linda Coffey and George Kuepper, who all have been involved in previous SARE grants in the region and nationally.
Work on planning for training demos at Heifer was initiated with a site visit. A final agenda outline was finalized and put online by Heifer for ease of registration. Evaluation of materials for a CD and training manual for workshop participants is underway
Dr. James Hill agreed to assist with communications to 1890s representatives who will also be invited to teleconference advisory meetings before and after the Heifer training. 2 Langston University presenters will be included on the program.
Phone, listserve and mail publicity are underway, with many personal contacts being made to encourage participation from agency/farmer pairs. Heifer US Program Field Reps from the Southern Region have also expressed interest in the program.
Communications are underway with the Middle Tennessee Experiment Station (MTES) to set the date for the 2nd training, probably in September, 2005, planned to be complementary with other identified training needs by MTES and NRCS.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
In contacting both presenters and potential participants, we are finding great enthusiasm for the training. We know that we need to overcome some barriers presented by not having some of the original participants involved but we feel that the workshop will give life to information from not only past NCAT-led SARE projects, but at least 5-10 other SARE projects from around the Southern region, with materials provided that will help participants find information from other SARE projects.
We will update this section in June after completion of the May workshop.