Sustaining western rural landscapes, lifestyles, and livelihoods through agricultural enterprise diversification: a collaborative partnership.

2000 Annual Report for EW00-024

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2000: $80,880.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2002
Matching Non-Federal Funds: $99,734.00
Region: Western
State: Wyoming
Principal Investigator:
Boyd Byelich

Sustaining western rural landscapes, lifestyles, and livelihoods through agricultural enterprise diversification: a collaborative partnership.


Agricultural enterprise diversification is one strategy that can help sustain western rural landscapes, lifestyles, and livelihoods by enhancing the viability of individual farm and ranch operations. The general purpose of this project is to better enable agricultural professionals at the field (i.e. county) level to provide consistent technical assistance to farmers and ranchers interested in agricultural enterprise diversification. Consequently, this professional development project began in October, 2000, with a target constituency of agricultural professionals and producers in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah, and Idaho.

Beginning in October, 2000, the major participants of the project met each month to coordinate the development of a draft resource guide on agricultural enterprise diversification that would serve as the manual for workshops scheduled for autumn of 2001. Initially, a survey of Cooperative Extension and NRCS agricultural professionals in the 5-state target area was completed. 205 Cooperative Extension and 564 NRCS field personnel were surveyed. The purpose of this survey was to determine the awareness of and the amount of technical assistance being provided for agricultural enterprise diversification. It also identified specific aspects of enterprise diversification where more technical information is desired and/or needed. 154 completed surveys were returned, for a response rate of 20%. These results helped determine the contents of the draft resource guide, which includes an introduction to diversification, a series of assessments to help collect information for making diversification decisions, a template for comparing the feasibility of specific enterprises, and supporting information for assisting in the implementation of a diversified enterprise.

The web site for the project,, was launched in March, 2001. It currently highlights each of the major components of the project, and contains contacts for additional information. The project display was completed in May, and subsequently used to market the project at numerous agriculture-related events. A banner was also completed for use at these venues as well as the scheduled workshops. Two versions of a brochure were developed to aid in awareness of the project, one highlighting the workshops, and the other focussing on the national conference.

Initial arrangements for the national conference were completed. The dates are locked in for Sept. 24-26, 2002, in Sheridan, Wyoming. A contract was signed with the Sheridan Holiday Inn as the main conference hotel.

Four workshops for professionals and producers were completed, using the draft resource guide as the course handbook. A total of 63 professionals and 21 producers from the target states participated. Each workshop consisted of one day in the classroom, where an overview of the contents of the resource guide was presented. This was followed by an evening speaker discussing their value-added diversified farm or ranch enterprise, and a ½ day tour of a diversified ranch the next day. On completion of each workshop, participants were asked to take the draft guide home, use it to assist producers interested in diversification, and to provide us with constructive criticisms on the guide’s effectiveness as well as suggested improvements. These comments will be used in the development of the final version of the guide in 2002.

Finally, a Wyoming Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Development (LEAD) seminar was sponsored through the project in December, 2001, during which 17 members of this class were provided training on agricultural enterprise diversification and each was issued a copy of the draft resource guide.

Objectives/Performance Targets


Communicate the benefits of agricultural enterprise diversification for economic and community viability, and establish a connection to natural resources stewardship.

Achieve a basic level of agricultural enterprise diversification competency among professionals that serve the agricultural community.

Provide awareness to agricultural producers and small rural communities that enterprise diversification information/assistance is available and who provides it.

Develop/obtain tools that will enable professionals to provide technical assistance for agricultural enterprise diversification.

Establish consistency in services related to agricultural enterprise diversification that are provided by professionals to producers.

Create opportunities for professionals, producers, and rural communities to share ideas, information, and experiences related to agricultural enterprise diversification.


Objective 1 – Communicate the benefits of agricultural enterprise diversification.

2 brochures were developed, one focused on the workshops, one on the national conference.

Display on the project and the benefits of diversification was developed and used at 14 events in 2001.

Objective 2 – Achieve basic level of competency among agricultural professionals.

4 workshops were held in Oct. and Nov., 2001, that provided diversification training to 63 professionals and 21 producers. Professionals consisted of NRCS, Cooperative Extension, SBDC, and agricultural lender personnel.

Wyoming – 49 Professionals, 19 producers
Montana – 3 professionals, 1 producer
Colorado – 5 professionals
Utah – 6 professionals, 1 producer
Idaho –

1 LEAD seminar – 9 professionals, 8 producers from Wyoming received training.

Workshop evaluations were completed by each participant and will be summarized for the final report.

Objective 3 – Awareness of diversification technical assistance.

2 brochures

Project display at 14 agriculture-related events – see attached

4 workshops, 1 LEAD seminar

Launched web site

Objective 4 – Develop/obtain tools to help enable agricultural professionals

Completed survey of agricultural professionals (NRCS, Coop. Extension) in Wyoming, Montana, Utah, Colorado, and Idaho to determine the level of technical assistance currently provided and identify other technical needs associated with agricultural enterprise diversification. 769 surveys issued, 154 returned completed (20% response rate). Results will be compiled for the final report.

Developed draft resource manual that guides professionals through the process of providing technical assistance to producers interested in agricultural enterprise diversification.

Developed digital photo library of 114 agricultural diversification photos.

Developed powerpoint presentations that include 3 variations of an overview and examples of diversification, setting goals, conducting resource inventories, determining feasibility of individual enterprises, legal liability, natural resource considerations, and community considerations.

Objective 5 – Establish consistency in diversification assistance provided by professionals.

Developed partnership consisting of NRCS, Cooperative Extension, SBDC, Wyoming Dept. of Agriculture, Wyoming Business Council, Wyoming Rural Dev. Council, and the Sonoran Institute to insure consistency of assistance provided and that appropriate referrals for assistance could occur.

4 workshops with participation from each of these partners and other personnel from their organizations.

Objective 6 – Create opportunities for professionals, producers, etc. to share ideas and information.

4 workshops, 1 LEAD seminar in 2001.

1 additional workshop for professionals and producers planned for March, 2002, so those who were not able to attend one of the 4 planned workshops will have an opportunity to do so.

National conference scheduled for Sept., 2002, with a target of 300 attendees made up of academia, professionals, and producers.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Dissemination of Findings:

2001 was focussed on the awareness of the project. However, the development of the draft resource guide and subsequent workshops and LEAD seminar did provide agricultural enterprise diversification training to 101 professionals and producers. Please refer to attachment for details of 2001 dissemination efforts and plans for 2002 dissemination of project materials.

Potential Benefits on Agriculture:

Its too early to tell, but feedback from workshop participants indicated that this type of assistance was sorely needed and greatly appreciated. We have had several producer participants contact us for follow-up direct technical assistance.

101 professionals and producers are now better enabled to provide diversification assistance or to make diversification decisions about their operations.

Farmer Adoption:

We are aware of several producers who attended the workshops that are either in some stage of diversification or are ready to begin. 2002 should be a better indicator. However, the focus of this professional development grant is on the professional, so we are trying to get professionals to adopt this material. 71 professionals received the resource guide training in 2001, and can now assist producers who are interested in agricultural enterprise diversification.

Reactions from Farmers and Ranchers:

Workshop evaluations indicated an above-average level of satisfaction from the producers that participated. All indicated that this type of technical assistance is needed and that this project is timely, considering the current status of traditional agriculture in America.

Producer Involvement:

4 producer families shared their value-added experiences at the workshops:

Roxana and Jim Johnson, value-added wool products, Saratoga, Oct. 2, 2001
Margy Brown, Beeswax handcream products, Newcastle, Oct. 22, 2001
Bessie Zeller, Queen Bee Gardens, honey candy, Greybull, Nov. 5, 2001
Bill Barney, direct beef marketing, Pinedale, Nov. 29, 2001

4 producers hosted tours of their diversified agricultural operations as part of the workshops:

Kinta Blumenthal – guest ranch, business retreats, stocker cattle, fee fishing, Saratoga, Oct. 3
Harry Tavegia – rustic ranch stays, fee hunting, trail rides, Newcastle, Oct. 23
Tim Flitner – fee hunting, bus tours, specialized horses, Nov. 6
Gary and Nancy Espenscheid – ranch stays, fee hunting, fitness camps, Nov. 30

21 producers attended workshops
8 producers attended the LEAD seminar


Gail Gordon
Business Dev. and Family Economics Specialist
Univ. of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service
PO Box 3354
Laramie, WY 82071
Office Phone: 3077665373
Ted Craig
Value-added Program Manager
Wyoming Business Council
2219 Carey Ave.
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Office Phone: 3077776578
Ben Alexander
Working Landscapes Program Director
Sonoran Institute, Northwest Office
201 S. Wallace Ave.
Bozeman, MT 59715
Office Phone: 4065877331
Jason Fearneyhough
Livestock and Forage Program Manager
Wyoming Business Council
214 W. 15th Street
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Office Phone: 3077772862
Mary Randolph
Executive Director
Wyoming Rural Development Council
2219 Carey Ave.
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Office Phone: 3077776430
Matt Hoobler
Natural Resources Program Coordinator
Wyoming Dept. of Agriculture
2219 Carey Ave.
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Office Phone: 3077777024
Cindy Garretson-Weibel
Education/Diversification Program Manager
Wyoming Business Council
2219 Carey Ave.
Cheyenne, WY 82002
Office Phone: 3077776589
Alan Schroeder
Agricultural and Natural Resources Law Specialist
Univ. of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service
PO Box 3354
Laramie, WY 82071
Office Phone: 3077665133
Debbie Popp
Associate State Director
Wyoming Small Business Dev. Center
PO Box 3922
Laramie, WY 82071
Office Phone: 3077663593