- Crop Production: irrigation
- Education and Training: extension, networking
- Energy: bioenergy and biofuels, energy conservation/efficiency, energy use, solar energy, wind power
- Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns, feasibility study, risk management, value added
- Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities
Situation: In Western states, the profitability and sustainability of agricultural producers directly links to the consumption and production of energy resources. Essential to the sustainability of agricultural operations and the entire energy economy is agricultural producer knowledge of energy issues. Energy issues are relevant to sustainability of agricultural lands in three significant ways: 1) energy efficiency directly impacts profitability, 2) agricultural producers have capacity to generate energy through biofuels, biomass, or small on-farm generation 3) agricultural producers are being asked to lease their land or provide easements for large scale energy development and storage projects such as commercial wind, large-scale transmission, and storage for geological sequestration of carbon. Decisions made on energy issues have long-term implications for the sustainability of agricultural production.
Project objectives from proposal:
Objectives: This grant proposes to develop energy education resources targeted at meeting the needs of agricultural producers and producer educators by developing materials, web-based tools, an in-depth energy training (offered to Extension agents and agency personnel in all Western SARE states), and educational tool kits. These resources would be designed to help producers understand and evaluate their energy opportunities.
Methods: The project would include direct educator training including development of a curriculum for teaching energy, Intranet tools, and a training workshop. Indirect educator tools would also be developed, including printed and web-based materials and an energy tool kit. Involvement of key producer representatives in identifying needs, developing resources, and facilitate evaluation will ensure applicability of project objectives.
Outcomes: Proposed outcomes for the project are: 1)Educators will increase training and educational outreach to agricultural producers. 2) Educators will establish networks for energy education between Western SARE states. 3) Producers and educators will be able to more easily access unbiased, research-based information. 4) Producers will apply the available information in their decision making processes. 5) Producers will understand the broad array of impacts affecting their energy issues. 6) Evaluations will indicate that the materials and resources available are relevant to meeting producer decision-making needs. 7) The project will aid producers in making informed energy decisions and will encourage them to seek out the trained educator network when faced with new energy concerns.
Evaluation: Three types of evaluation will be utilized in assessing this program:
1. Evaluation of targeted Extension educators: A targeted list of Extension educators will be will be asked to evaluate the project on the criteria of access to information, ease of teaching curriculum, ability to refer producers to relevant resources, and engagement in a collaborative network.
2. Evaluation of targeted producers: Targeted producers will be asked to evaluate the project based on their ability to locate information, the degree to which that information aided in decision making, and their likelihood to seek out network professionals for future energy needs.
3. Evaluation of non-target Extension educators: Extension educators and agency personnel who have accessed the tools will be asked to evaluate their usefulness in meeting producer needs with regard to energy education.