Equipping Extension Educators to Address Producer Needs in Energy Education
This project intends to meet the needs of producers in energy education via the professional development of Extension and other agency personnel. The project is being completed through:
• Collecting and developing non-biased, research-based materials designed to meet the needs of educators and producers who may lack formal training on energy-related issues.
• Providing information that addresses decision-making, focusing on technical, economic and regulatory issues.
• Providing training and resources that are helpful to educators and agricultural producers seeking to assess the potential for renewable energy development and/or energy conservation in agricultural operations.
The output objectives for this project fall into two categories: 1) direct educator training and materials and 2) indirect training and materials that can be accessed by agricultural producers, Extension Agents and other agency personnel.
1: Audience A: Direct Educator Training
Product a: Curriculum: The assessment and work completed in the inputs phase would result in a professionally designed curriculum for teaching energy to agricultural producers. While the curriculum design would be predicated on assessments in the input phase, the output may include suggestions for incorporating energy education into sustainable production conversations and trainings, such as sustainable production agricultural updates, or tips for breaking complex energy decisions into easy-to-understand steps for producers.
Product b: Intranet Tools: Extension educators in both Montana and Wyoming have informally indicated that they are intimidated when they are confronted with energy issues. In addition, not all educators will be able to attend the in-depth training proposed in this grant. Therefore, Intranet tools would be developed to help educators walk producers through the steps of evaluating energy issues. These guides would be available to all Extension educators and agency personnel.
Product c: Training: The curriculum and Intranet tools would be accompanied by training for targeted Extension educators and agency personnel in all Western SARE states. This training would include hands-on experiences, presentations from subject matter experts, and exploration of the curriculum and Intranet tools. In addition to the formal training, networking opportunities between states would encourage future collaboration. The emphasis of this training would be on teaching energy issues.
2: Audience B: Indirect Educator Training
Product d: Material Development: Based on work in the inputs phase, materials would be designed, modified, or repackaged to meet producer needs. As asserted in the assumptions description, these materials would be evaluated to ensure that they provide a balance of technical, economic, and regulatory considerations, are unbiased and representative of multiple perspectives, and are useful to producers in understanding their potential for energy development and/or conservation as it relates to the sustainability of their operation.
Product e: Development of Tool Kits: In addition to the Intranet tools, energy tool-kits would be available to interest groups who would like to engage in education with agricultural producers. These tool kits would provide easy-to-use information, guides, and materials that would help to instruct producers in making energy decisions.
Outcomes for this project are as follows:
1. Educators will increase training and educational outreach to agricultural producers. This outreach may take a variety of forms, from informal one-on-one discussions to formal workshops or references to materials and tools. Hopefully, those who participate in the training will conduct training sessions in their own states to further leverage this investment. Educational outreach may include breakout sessions at commodity organizations annual conventions, agency training sessions for their own agency own staff, etc.
2. Educators will establish networks for energy education between Western SARE states. This collaboration will, in the short term, enable greater education capacity and reduction of duplicated efforts between states, and, in the long term, establish a network structure that will enable educators to adapt and respond to emerging energy issues. . This is especially critical as many emerging energy issues cross political boundaries. As an example, many states will be involved in the siting of large-scale transmission line development. While the project may be the same from Montana to Nevada, the implications of the project and local reactions to the project will differ by state. Communication between resource providers can help to ensure that new issues are addressed appropriately and that consistent education is provided across political boundaries.
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 that their local issues may not be they driving factors in their energy development plans. Some energy issues, such as pore space leasing for geological sequestration of carbon or large-scale transmission development may be dictated by larger interest groups.
6. Evaluations will indicate that the materials and resources available are relevant to meeting producer decision-making needs.
Ultimately, 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.
Activity Start Time End Time
Notice of Grant October 2010
Needs Assessment Design April 2010 May 2010
Conduct Needs Assessment May 2010 June 2010
Evaluation of Materials May 2010 June 2010
Design of Materials June 2010 September 2011
Development of Curriculum April 2011 September 2011
Development of Intranet July 2011 September 2011
Development of Tool-Kits April 2011 September 2011
In-Depth Training PlanningJuly 2011 September 2011
In-Depth Training November 2011
Evaluation November 2011 June 2012
The following summarizes work completed to date:
A needs assessment survey of Extension Educators in the WSARE states was conducted. In addition, a review of available materials and programs from Extension programs in the WSARE region was completed. A copy of the needs assessment survey results is provided in the addendum to this report. To further assess needs and determine curriculum development needs, University of Wyoming conducted a Solar Energy International training for field faculty in November 2010 and Montana State University Extension piloted a model for small wind energy curriculum in October 2010. These efforts emphasized the unique nature of professional development needs in Extension with regard to energy education. The project coordinators identified appropriate methodologies for material development and training as a result of this in-depth needs assessment.
Literature Review and Research Project
As part of this project, a through literature review and research project was conducted to better assess field faculty needs and appropriate educational methodologies given the concerns of educators. A copy of the research is provided as an addendum to this report.
Educational Theories Utilized in Project Development
Through needs assessment, research and pilots of training methodologies, three basic tenets guided the development of the project:
1. The majority of field personnel (in both Extension and NRCS) lack training and expertise in energy. Materials must be easy to use and understand whether an educator is well-versed in energy or new to the subject.
2. The project must provide examples of energy programming and must guide educators in applying the resources to producer outreach, while providing for varying levels of experience in energy.
3. The resources must be self-guided and self-contained. The challenge in energy education is not a lack of resources. There are thousands of resources available. The challenge lies in distilling non-biased, research based information into a format that is easy to teach – right out of the box.
Material Development Based on the Project Objectives
The E3A toolkit material development involved four land-grant universities: Montana State University, University of Wyoming, Colorado State University, and North Dakota State University.
1: Audience A: Direct Educator Training
Product a: Curriculum: The assessment and work completed in the inputs phase resulted in a self-guided, self-contained toolkit curriculum for teaching energy to agricultural producers. The curriculum is called E3A (Exploring Energy Efficiency and Alternatives). The curriculum currently includes curriculum and folder content on nine renewable energy subjects and a User Guide Supplement which provides lesson plans and suggestions for structuring guest speaker content. In addition, the toolkit includes press and promotional materials, evaluation tools, and needs assessment resources to aid agricultural educators in structuring educational programming.
The curriculum is summarized in a video which can be accessed at: http://wxtvonline.org/2012/05/e3a/. Copies of the toolkit curriculum have also been provided as part of this grant report.
Product b: Intranet Tools: At www.e3a4u.info, producers, agricultural educators and other agencies can find a host of resources. First, all of the fact sheets (over 80) developed in this project are available for free download. A complete list of the sources used in the curriculum development is provided in addition supplemental links to supporting resources that complement the fact sheets.
Those who receive a toolkit (restricted to educators, agencies, and non-profits) receive a password that allows access to Tools for Teachers. This area of the website contains resources for teaching the curriculum – including PowerPoint presentations, recorded webinars, and supplemental resources for teaching energy.
Currently, the project is developing podcasts and a blog/FAQ area where additional outreach tools will be available for producer education.
Product c: Training: A variety of trainings have been completed in this program:
– WSARE Agricultural Renewable Energy Training Seminar: This event was held on Nov. 28-29, 2011. Thirty-eight people attended the event, with representation from 7 Western States, NRCS, WSARE, University Extension, NCAT, University research, Farm Bureau. The seminar utilized the E3A toolkit as well as resources from NRCS-West National Technology Support Center to educate the attendees on teaching energy on-farm.
– Montana NRCS Field Office Training: Each NRCS field office in Montana was provided a toolkit and training in the use of the materials by the state office in the spring 2012. Field offices were encouraged to conduct at least one internal training subsequent to the state provided training. Further collaboration with MT NRCS is planned for 2012-2013.
– Montana Extension Field Faculty Training: Training on the use of the E3A materials was provided to 40% (36 members) of the field faculty in December 2011 and January 2012. Many of the field faculty members followed through with educational efforts following the training and work continues to take place in the county field offices.
– Wyoming Extension Field Faculty Training: Wyoming Extension identified regional faculty members who have been tasked with teaching energy in their areas. This core team received a two-day intensive training in March 2012 and continue to implement educational efforts in the state.
– New Mexico Extension Field Faculty Training: On July 18, 2012, 25 members of NMSU Extension Field Faculty were trained in the use of E3A materials. Further collaborations between NMSU research, MSU Extension, and UW Extension are being planned.
– Webinars: In addition to monthly hosted webinars, E3A was featured in the home energy eXtension webinar series. The webinars provide training on use of the toolkits and information on how to tailor the resources to meet needs of producers in various states.
– Educational Sessions: Field personnel and specialists are leveraging the information in a variety of outreach programs. Those programs are being tracked, evaluated and reported within each state/agency.
2: Audience B: Indirect Educator Training
Product d: Material Development: The fact sheets included in the E3A curriculum are available through county Extension offices and are available for free download at www.e3a4u.info. In addition, local outreach efforts including radio broadcasts and newspaper articles help to increase indirect outreach and expand producer access to and awareness of the resources.
Product e: Development of Tool Kits: As referenced above, E3A tool-kits are available to interest groups who would like to engage in education with agricultural producers. These tool kits provide easy-to-use information, guides, and materials that help to instruct producers in making energy decisions.
In June 2012, the grant was extended until February 2013. During the extension period podcasts, additional online resources, and new content folders/powerpoints/etc will be developed to add greater depth to the toolkit resources.
Stakeholder Involvement and Partnerships
A WSARE Issue Team was involved in material development. This Issue Team was comprised of Extension educators and specialists from MT and WY. Faculty from North Dakota State University and Colorado State University also contributed to content development. All materials were reviewed by content experts, as well as end users of the materials for technical accuracy as well as readability.
MSUE has developed a strong partnership with MT NRCS and the NRCS West National Technology Support Center as a result of the E3A project. NRCS was a full partner in providing training during the WSARE Agricultural Renewable Energy Training Seminar and continued that partnership by training field office personnel on use of the toolkit resources. Collaboration continues as MSUE recently receive grant funding to complete on-farm energy audits. NRCS and MSUE will leverage resources in either agency to benefit producers in on-farm energy decision making. The E3A toolkit is also part of this work.
E3A is being used as the primary curriculum for training Extension field faculty in MT, WY, and NM. The curriculum is being explored for use in FL, NC, UT, CO, SK, MO, MI and NJ. As the project launched in October 2011, the curriculum is still fairly new, but thus far has appealed to those seeking to train energy educators on renewable energy decision making.
Montana Farm Bureau emerged as a strong supporter of the project and has provided information on the project and resources to its membership.
Montana State 4-H also emerged as a partner to this project. Leveraging the resources in the toolkit, youth activity guides are being developed to teach wind, solar, and energy conservation principles. These activity guides are designed to engage youth in energy decision-making. A copy of the draft wind activity guide is included in the project addendum. No grant funds were used in the development of the youth materials.
Distinctive Educational Tools
This project utilized thorough needs assessment and faculty concerns research to arrive at an educational model that is unique in energy education. This project provides an educational framework, such that faculty can develop energy education context – which allows for more rapid integration of energy content. This project involved the review of hundreds of resources and publications on energy. While there are great resources available that provide technical content on energy topics, few resources teaching energy to adult learners were found. This project is unique in its focus on training educators to teach energy – which is making energy information more readily accessible to producers.
- Bookmark of Webinars
- NRCS/Extension Training Agenda
- E3A Overview Sheet
- DRAFT Youth Guide
- NM Agent Training Agenda
- Literature Review and Research
- Needs Assessment Survey Summary
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
Outcomes for this project are as follows:
1. The project proposed: Educators will increase training and educational outreach to agricultural producers. At the time of this report, educational outreach sessions in Montana and Wyoming from the time of the first educator training to present involved formal presentations to over 600 individuals using the E3A curriculum. Educators also utilized E3A resources to conduct youth education (to 4-H and American Farmer’s Union youth), complete informal education via radio and newspaper, and to educate producers in non-formal and individual discussions on energy. Those outreach efforts will be formally reported in December 2012 and will be included in the final report. In the baseline research for this project, it was determined that 81% of faculty dedicated fewer than 20 hours per year to energy outreach. The efforts accomplished since January 2012 demonstrate significant increase in energy education. These numbers do not reflect efforts by NRCS personnel or other states to educate producers.
2. The project proposed: Educators will establish networks for energy education between Western SARE states. The project initially connected educators in MT and WY through the WSARE issue team. That collaboration has expanded to include CO (though not formally training faculty using E3A) and NM. Ten other states are now exploring use of E3A to train faculty and to share resources. The level of collaboration on this project enables greater depth across all technologies and ensures that the materials will be continuously updated and improved to benefit all states collaborating in the project.
3. The project proposed: Producers and educators will be able to more easily access unbiased, research-based information. In addition to direct and indirect trainings, Internet traffic can be an indication of access to information. The www.e3a4u.info website launched in November 2011. Through July 2012, 2,399 unique individuals accessed the site. Thus far, the site has only been promoted to educators. Further outreach and promotion of the site to the general public will commence in the fall 2012. Another indicator is the number of toolkits distributed. Thus far, 143 educators have received toolkits and training on use of the materials.
4. The project proposed: Producers will apply the available information in their decision-making processes. Specific details will be provided in the final project report. However, a couple of examples illustrating the impacts of E3A include the following from field faculty reports: “Producer XXXX increased his knowledge of renewable energy technology. He has moved on to medium term impacts by using a renewable source to operate an air exchange device to pre-heat air for his shop heating system. Using the building project excavation to collect ground heat as a source in essentially a heat exchanger should reduce his heating expense substantially. He is excited about the potential savings.” Another example: “Producer YYYY increased his knowledge of irrigation energy efficiency for a short term impact, and is currently working with NCAT and irrigation company folks to redesign his system and implement his new knowledge for increased efficiency.”
5. The project proposed: Evaluations will indicate that the materials and resources available are relevant to meeting producer decision-making needs. Formal evaluations are being collected and tabulated. Evaluation results will be provided in the final report.
Associate Specialist of Energy Education
203 Culbertson Hall
P.O. Box 172230
Bozeman, MT 59717
Office Phone: 4069941750