Training and Connecting Agricultural Professionals Through an Immersion Field Course and the Cultivating Success Instructor Training Program in Washington

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2008: $29,599.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2011
Region: Western
State: Washington
Principal Investigator:
Catherine Perillo
Washington State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: barley, canola, corn, potatoes, rye, safflower, spelt, wheat, grass (misc. perennial), hay
  • Fruits: apples, berries (other), cherries, grapes, pears, plums, berries (strawberries)
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, cabbages, garlic, greens (leafy), lentils, peas (culinary), sweet corn
  • Additional Plants: herbs, ornamentals
  • Animals: bovine, poultry, shellfish
  • Animal Products: dairy


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, animal protection and health, grazing - continuous, free-range, manure management, mineral supplements, pasture fertility, preventive practices, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages, watering systems, winter forage
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: extension, networking, study circle
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, community-supported agriculture, marketing management, value added, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement, wildlife
  • Pest Management: biological control, chemical control, competition, cultural control, disease vectors, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, flame, physical control, mulching - plastic, prevention, row covers (for pests), sanitation, weather monitoring
  • Production Systems: transitioning to organic, agroecosystems
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, green manures, organic matter, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: partnerships, public participation, social networks, sustainability measures


    Sustainable agriculture programming by agricultural professionals – including Extension Educators – is often a challenge due to individuals’ own disciplinary training/focus obscuring the ‘bigger picture’ and due to challenges in obtaining the necessary understanding of agri-food system complexities. We brought professionals together in an interdisciplinary field course and through instructor trainings, and assessed the short and medium-term impacts of these experiences toward meeting the above challenges. The field-immersion approach of learning about food systems by meeting with farmers, processors at their sites was seen as valuable at the time, and had positive impacts on their professional work 5+ years later.

    Project objectives:

    1) Increase the region’s agricultural professionals’ interdisciplinary and holistic understanding of agricultural and food systems, esp. understanding and acceptance of sustainable agricultural practices.

    2) Increase the networked pool of agricultural professionals who can deliver sustainable agriculture, whole-farm planning programs to farmers and ranchers.

    3) Determine the extent to which the Cultivating Success Field Course and Instructor Trainings have influenced the participants’ knowledge retention and subsequent program delivery in sustainable agricultural and alternative marketing practices (medium- and long-term impacts of past and proposed activities).

    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.