- Education and Training: demonstration, extension, workshop
- Energy: biodiesel, bioenergy and biofuels, biofuel feedstocks
This project successfully developed and implemented a curriculum in Tennessee related to biomass energy. A stakeholder advisory group was created and had a face-to-face meeting in August 2015 at the beginning of the development phase. A curriculum with presentations was completed, submitted to the stakeholder advisory group for final comments, and implemented in three regional trainings for Extension personnel and local officials in June – August 2016. 94% of trainee respondents indicated an increase in their knowledge of no-till production of winter canola, on-farm biodiesel production and the Rural Energy for America Program. 89% of these trainees indicated an increase in their knowledge of no-till sunflower production and the economics of growing biomass energy crops. All participants agreed that they would recommend the program to others, it increased their capacity to provide programs related to sustainability, and increased the potential for interactions between their organizations and others. Two trainees used the soil health portion of the curriculum to provide information to their respective stakeholders in 2017. 90% (36 of 40) and 92% (33 of 36) of these participants indicated an increase in their knowledge of how to measure soil health and how to improve soil health, respectively. The overall increase in knowledge (participants identifying an increase in knowledge for at least one of the above parameters) was 93% (37 of 40). 76% (28 of 37) of participants indicated an increase in their potential to measure different field indicators of soil health, 69% (29 of 42) of participants indicated an increase in their potential to perform specific testing for soil health, 83% (33 of 40) of participants indicated an increase in their potential to incorporate sustainable agricultural methods for soil health. The overall increase in behavior (participants identifying an increase in knowledge for at least one of the above parameters) was 83% (35 of 42). In addition, 68% (28 of 41) of participants identified an increase in their potential to seek information from UT/TSU Extension and 98% (45 of 46) agreed they would recommend this program to others.
Overall, the successful development and implementation of the biomass energy curriculum led to increased knowledge and potential changes in behavior. The low use of the curriculum (12%, 2 of 17 trained) may be due to the decrease in oil prices which occurred in 2015 and therefore reduced interest in biomass energy by stakeholders in Tennessee. It is expected that interest will increase with these oil prices, therefore, the curriculum is available online on the Farm Energy Community of Practice website at eXtension (http://articles.extension.org/pages/73919/biomass-energy-training-curriculum-tn).
The proposed objectives related to milestones are as follows:
1. Establish stakeholder advisory group consisting of Extension agents and farmers/ranchers to provide assistance in planning the overall outline and structure of the curriculum on biomass
2. Generate a research-based curriculum, training manual and workshop plan for Extension agents and state and federal officials to use as they train producers.
3. Field test the curriculum and training manual through train-the trainer workshops (Phase 1) and initial training of producers (Phase 2).
4. Revise curriculum and training manual based on results from field testing data collection to produce final versions.
5. Upload revised final version of curriculum and training manual to TSU/UT Energy Education and SARE websites.