Manure Management: An essential component of 4-H livestock projects

2007 Annual Report for EW05-015

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2005: $59,927.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Western
State: Colorado
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Jessica Davis
Colorado State University

Manure Management: An essential component of 4-H livestock projects


Manure management is a critical component of sustainable livestock production. Our goal is to train extension 4-H leaders and youth in manure management. We have developed a 4-H Manure Management curriculum that includes the following topics: Livestock and the Community, Protecting Human and Animal Health, Protecting Water Quality, Protecting Air Quality, Composting Animal Manure, Manure and Compost Utilization, and Economics of Manure Management. The 4-H leaders will encourage youth to enhance their awareness and improve their skills in manure management. Behavioral changes may include increased composting, prevention of manure-contaminated runoff, and manure utilization at agronomic rates.

Objectives/Performance Targets

  • We will develop a Manure Management curriculum for 4-H livestock participants.
    We will develop a “Helper’s Guide” that will provide additional learn by-doing activities.
    We will pilot test the curriculum and make revisions to improve it.
    We will print 3000 copies of the curriculum for distribution among all western states.
    We will develop a youth-friendly webpage.
    We will train 4-H agents in the use of the curriculum.
    We will train volunteer leaders in the use of the curriculum.


We presented our draft 4-H Manure Management Workbook to the Front Range 4-H agents (20 participants) on Feb. 15, 2007 in a meeting in Greeley, CO. There was a lot of interest in the curriculum and in incorporating it into the species-specific curricula in use already. Based on this discussion and subsequent feedback, we made a decision not to print the curriculum. The Front Range 4-H Team suggested that web-based curriculum was a better use of resources. The idea is that not many 4-H participants or even leaders will be interested in an entire module on manure management. However, the 4-H agents believe it has more value taken in sections as part of existing species-specific curriculum. In this way, the different species groups can use the parts of the curriculum that are best suited to their interests and the specific challenges regarding their species. In addition, web-based curriculum will have widespread accessibility throughout the Western Region and beyond as compared to printed documents. Therefore, the funding that was allocated to publication will be needed for webpage design and layout.

We presented our draft curriculum to 15 students at the State 4-H Conference on June 21, 2007 in Fort Collins. We used hands-on activities and informal interaction to assess student interest and understanding of concepts. After this conference, we added some additional hands-on activities to improve the experiential learning component of the curriculum.

Two longstanding livestock 4-H agents in Colorado, Kipp Nye and Tom McBride, took the time to give us a thorough review of our draft of the 4-H Manure Management curriculum Youth Activity Guide. They were very helpful, especially in helping us to present the information to the students at the right level. The revision has now been completed.

The tasks remaining include:
 Additional resource list compiled for 4-H leaders by Feb. 15, 2008

This will bolster 4-H leaders and agents’ understanding of manure management so that they can direct the students if they are interested in additional information.
 Curriculum layout finalized by Feb. 29, 2008
The curriculum will then be uploaded to our website and copied onto CDs for distribution as described below.
 Website unveiling by March 15, 2008
Email will be sent to all agriculture and 4-H agents in CO, as well as, distributed via the eNewsletter of the National Livestock and Poultry Environmental Learning Center (a national list of more than 1000 livestock professionals) to announce the availability of the curriculum.
 CDs of curriculum and brochures explaining the curriculum sent to all county extension offices in Colorado by March 30, 2008
4-H agents will be encouraged to use the parts of the curriculum most suited to the interests and species of their 4-H project participants.
 10 copies of curriculum (on CD) and brochures explaining the curriculum sent to all other western states’ extension offices by March 30, 2008
This will insure that 4-H agents throughout the western region are aware of the availability of this curriculum.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

We are aiming for short-term, medium-term, and long-term outcomes.

In the short-term, we are enhancing awareness of environmental issues related to livestock production and increasing knowledge of manure management practices among extension 4-H agents, volunteer leaders, and student participants.

In the medium-term, we aim to improve the skills of 4-H agents and leaders, in particular, to increase their ability to provide educational programs in manure management to 4-H youth. We are providing curriculum and supplemental materials in order to achieve this aim.

In the long-term, we anticipate that 4-H agents and leaders will use the curriculum and encourage youth participating in the 4-H livestock programs to make choices that protect the environment from the excrement of their project animals. We expect that agents and leaders will be able to document behavioral changes in participating youth. Behavioral changes may include an increased number of youth who are composting manure, changes in the corrals to prevent manure contaminated runoff, and utilization of manure at agronomic rates.

When the principles of good nutrient management are introduced early in a youth’s life, they are more likely to practice these principles in their adult years. Livestock producers who utilize methods for handling manure that do not reflect Best Management Practices may choose not to change their management techniques in order to protect the environment. However, 4-H youth are more likely to practice what they have learned from reliable sources such as 4-H curricula, and may influence their elders as well. The inclusion of manure management in livestock 4-H curricula has the potential to have a significant environmental impact as these future leaders and business people move into the workforce.


Adriane Elliott

Research Associate
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1170
James Pritchett

Assistane Professor
Colorado State University
Dept. of Agric. and Resource Economics
Fort Collins, CO 80523
Kathy Doesken

Research Associate
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1170