"High Tech, High Touch" Professional Development in Geospatial Applications for Invasive Species Management

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2007: $60,560.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Western
State: Arizona
Principal Investigator:
Barron Orr
University of Arizona


  • Animals: bovine, sheep


  • Animal Production: free-range, preventive practices, range improvement
  • Education and Training: demonstration, display, extension, farmer to farmer, networking, participatory research
  • Pest Management: eradication, integrated pest management, prevention, weed ecology

    Proposal abstract:

    Justification: Invasive species are a major problem in the United States, and invasive weeds are particularly problematical in the western U.S. because they threaten native plants and wildlife, negatively impact livestock on rangelands, and alter wildfire regimes to jeopardize the sustainability of ecosystems. Digital field mapping is an effective tool in addressing and managing the problem of invasive weeds, and demand among farmers, ranchers and other land and resource stewards for a simple, inexpensive, digital alternative to manual field data collection and mapping has grown. The Geospatial Extension programs in Utah and Arizona have brought imagery, GPS and GIS together into one turn-key, field-based, decision support solution, a Geospatial Tool Kit, that end users can both obtain and use with relative ease. The success of field mapping efforts and the implementation and adoption of the technology depends on a blend of access to technology, hands-on workshops, and materials that can be revisited after workshops or used for self-paced learning in lieu of workshop training. Methods: We will train extension agents, agency personnel, university faculty and staff and other lead users in the operation of the GTK for field mapping of weeds so they can in turn train producers and land managers. Our virtual training program of interactive, online training materials will incorporate text, images, audio, video, and interactive exercises. This will provide primary instruction in areas where hands-on training is not available, and will reinforce learning by participants in workshops and demonstrations. We will create a modified version of the online training for use on handheld computers and PDAs to facilitate learning and effective application in the field. The outreach component of the training effort will be anchored in two annual meetings: On-Target, the key professional development opportunity for Extension agents, and the Southwestern Noxious/Invasive Weed Short Course in Farmington, NM. Hands-on workshops also will be presented as requested by extension agents, agency personnel, and local learning networks. To supplement training efforts, we will facilitate the creation of local learning networks led by trainers and lead users. This will be achieved through the creation of online networking tools that will facilitate communication and knowledge transfer between trainers/lead users and learners with similar needs, interests, or geographical proximity. The creation of these tools will increase access to field mapping equipment and information by bringing together people who have GTKs to lend and those in need of equipment to carry out field mapping of weeds on their land.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Activities --Regularly scheduled GTK-based training events (20 participants each) with CWMAs and as part of existing programs (e.g., Master Watershed Stewards. --Products will be demonstrated for agricultural professionals at the Farmington Short Course (150 participants). --Products will be demonstrated at On-Target Professional Development Seminar (20 participants). Products --Self-paced online training modules linked to the NGTEN website. Content will include text, images, audio, video, and interactive exercises. --Two forums added to the NGTEN website (one for general questions/comments about using GTKs, the other specifically for questions/comments related to invasive species mapping. --Frequently Asked Questions page added to the NGTEN website --Wikis created for image and video contributions. --Final printed fact sheet for subsequent distribution describing the system capabilities and on-line training opportunities.
    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.