Living on the Land Curriculum Expansion and Instructor Trainings

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2006: $93,365.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2009
Region: Western
State: Nevada
Principal Investigator:
Susan Donaldson
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: general hay and forage crops, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: bovine, sheep
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: manure management, pasture fertility, grazing - rotational, housing, watering systems, winter forage, feed/forage
  • Crop Production: windbreaks
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension
  • Farm Business Management: whole farm planning, community-supported agriculture, budgets/cost and returns, marketing management, agricultural finance
  • Natural Resources/Environment: habitat enhancement, riparian buffers, soil stabilization, wetlands, wildlife
  • Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, cultural control, eradication, integrated pest management, physical control, prevention, sanitation, weed ecology
  • Production Systems: holistic management
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis, composting, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: urban/rural integration, analysis of personal/family life, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Throughout the West, population dynamics are changing. As communities grow, land at urban fringes is being rezoned from large agricultural enterprises to smaller, 1- to 40-acre+ parcels that maintain some agricultural uses while attracting a more diverse population of owners. Land fragmentation leads to an increase in the number of domestic wells and septic systems, resulting in impacts to groundwater. Suburban residents may object to the sights, smells, and sounds associated with typical agricultural uses. Management issues and failures may result in accelerated soil erosion, nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, manure management issues, and more. As communities grapple with increasing regulatory pressures to meet water quality goals, these properties become increasingly important focuses for educational efforts. Our curriculum, Living on the Land: Stewardship for Small Acreages, was introduced in 2001 to address these specific issues. The WSARE-funded Professional Development Project authored a curriculum that includes information on goal setting and creating management plans, soils, water, plants, and animals. The curriculum includes an instructor’s guide, lesson plans, Web resources, and evaluation instruments. We also provided training for 47 professionals from eight western states who work with small-acreage owners. Since launch, more than 1,200 copies have been distributed, with additional copies downloaded from the Web. Thousands of small acreage owners have received training using all or part of the curriculum, and hundreds of best management practices have been implemented. However, we continue to receive requests for training and additions to the curriculum. Given the demand for both the curriculum materials and continued trainings throughout the western states, we propose to update the curriculum and provide a minimum of two trainings in western locales for approximately 100 Cooperative Extension (CE), Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and Soil and Water Conservation District (S&WCD) staff. Curriculum updates will include two new modules: marketing and economics of small-acreage properties; and wildfire threat reduction. Other revisions include an expanded section on weed management strategies; an expanded discussion of pollution reduction; alternative grazing management strategies; a new lesson on feeds and feeding; re-organization of Module 1; revision of the Instructor’s Guide, to include sections on building teams to teach the entire curriculum, ideas for “train the trainers” workshops, workshop agendas to fit various time frames, etc.; and updating of all Web site resource lists. Completion of the teaching modules will be followed by two, one- to two-day professional development trainings for western states professionals from Cooperative Extension, NRCS, and Conservation Districts, to be held in two separate locations. The trainings will also include such topics as reaching the targeted audience, involving the local community, and assessing natural resource conditions and needs. A half-day tour to local small acreage properties will be included to allow participants to hone their interviewing and site assessment skills. Participants attending the workshops will be asked to complete an evaluation at the end of the training and again one year later. An additional evaluation by those receiving copies of the curriculum will be conducted one year after the trainings. Survey participants will be asked to rate the curriculum, detail the parts of the curriculum used, report on the number of students reached and management practices implemented, provide feedback on content, etc. As a result of curriculum development and training, we anticipate that participants will be capable of launching small-acreage programs tailored to the needs of individual communities in their states. The true measure of success of this program will lie in documenting the increase in knowledge and change in behavior (e.g. adoption of BMPs) by local audiences as a result of programs initiated by participants making use of the curriculum.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Revise and update existing Living on the Land curriculum modules and lessions.
    2. Add module on marketing and budgeting.
    3. Add module on wildfire threat reduction.
    4. Organize and teach two workshops for participants (educators) from CE, NRCS, and S&WCD to train them in the use of the curriculum.
    5. Continue to publicize and distribute the curriculum.
    6. Evaluate the quality and use of the curriculum.

    Performance Targets to be Reported:

    • Number and background of those participating in our training (target: 90 professionals)
    • Evaluation of the curriculum modules by the program participants (target: no ratings lower than "good")
    • Evaluation of the training session by the program participants (target: majority of participants find the training session worth their time to attend)
    • Number of new small-acreage programs planned or initiated on a state-by-state basis (target: 8 new programs established within 2 years after the trainings)
    • Number of training participants using the curriculum in educating small acreage owners (target: 50%)

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.