Enhancing the Exploring Energy Efficiency – Alternatives (E3A) Curriculum

Project Overview

EW13-014
Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2013: $42,277.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2015
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Milton Geiger
University of Wyoming Extension
Co-Investigators:
Dr. Glen Whipple
University of Wyoming Extension

Annual Reports

Commodities

Not commodity specific

Practices

  • Animal Production: watering systems
  • Crop Production: irrigation
  • Education and Training: decision support system, display, extension, networking, workshop, youth education
  • Energy: bioenergy and biofuels, energy conservation/efficiency, energy use, solar energy, wind power
  • Farm Business Management: feasibility study, agricultural finance

    Abstract:

    The economic viability of agricultural operations and rural enterprises is directly tied to the production and consumption of energy. To aid producers through Extension and other natural resource professionals in decisions related to energy, the existing tools of the Exploring Energy Efficiency and Alternatives (E3A) curriculum were enhanced and expanded. The project developed energy education resources and trainings focused on empowering Extension and other natural resource educators to be a primary resource for a rapidly evolving energy landscape. The resources are especially relevant as producers no have choices related to energy, including radically reducing consumption or profitably producing their own energy.

     

    The materials, co-branded by the University of Wyoming and Montana State University, continue to be used nationally. Acknowledging staffing challenges at UW and MSU, the resources were made available through Creative Commons.

     

     

    This PDP project addressed the following goals:

    1) Develop additional content that is required to address specific agricultural producer needs,

    2) Offer additional training opportunities for other states desiring to utilize the E3A curriculum, and

    3) Enhance support options for currently trained educators to improve the effectiveness of programing for producers.    

     

    These goals are progressing well, including the incorporation of new training techniques and open source publication practices.

     

    The E3A material continues to be utilized by states across the country.

    Project objectives:

    The objectives and performance targets were defined in the original proposal and further refined in a no-cost extension request.

     

    (From original proposal)

     

    The objectives/deliverables of the project fit into three broad foci: 1) Develop additional content that is required to address specific agricultural producer needs, 2) offer additional training opportunities for other states desiring to utilize the E3A curriculum, and 3) enhance support options for currently trained educators to improve the effectiveness of programing for producers.    

    With existing E3A templates and design, the development of new materials can be completed rapidly – Four new folders within six months of grant award.

    The four folders will address:

    • Ground source heat pumps (geothermal) – High and volatile heating costs (e.g. propane or electricity) are the reality for many producers;
    • Direct-use geothermal – A very site specific opportunity for specialty agriculture production (e.g. greenhouses, aquaculture) that exists in some locations throughout the West;
    • Solar/wind-powered livestock watering systems – Often the most cost effective use of renewable energy on livestock operations;
    • Irrigation efficiency – The largest non-transportation use of energy on many farming operations with significant opportunity for a rapid rate of return.

    State level trainings will be completed at the most opportune (effective) time as determined by the recipient states. Ideally it will occur after the development of the enhanced support infrastructure and additional folders – Three trainings within 18 months of the grant award date.

    The three trainings will offer the E3A toolkit to at least 50 agriculture and natural resource professionals, including Extension, Conservation Districts, and USDA employees (Farm Service Agency, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Rural Development). As an example, all Montana NRCS offices have received the E3A training and possess the toolkit.

    As the E3A toolkit already has infrastructure to support video creation and webinars, the enhanced support tools can also be created rapidly. To maximize the effectiveness of training webinars, these will be delivered over the course of one year – Creation of two videos, twelve support webinars, and a functioning “Skype-an-Expert” resource with 12 months of the award date.

    The support tools will reach both newly and previously trained educators. By the end of the project, we will have reached over 200 contacts with the enhanced content. The videos and webinars will include the active participation of at least four producers, who are vetted for their experience and expertise in energy issues.

    Overall, the project will be responsive to the needs of producers, incorporating both positive and cautionary experiences with alternative energy.

    (From approved no-cost extension) –

    Additional Time and Justification

    Time request – I kindly request an additional ten months to complete Enhancing the Exploring Energy Efficiency and Alternatives (E3A) Curriculum, resulting in a closing date of June 14, 2016.

     

    The primary reason for the extension request is the resignation of the lead partner from Montana State University. With the resignation of Sarah Hamlen in November 2013 and the subsequent retirement of her supervisor Dr. Mike Vogel in June 2014, MSU has not yet re-filled the either energy extension position. With the lack of partnership support, the project became a much greater time burden for UW than anticipated. UW has recruited additional institutional partners, namely University of Alaska-Fairbanks and University of Nebraska-Lincoln, to develop content. Still, UW remains the sole institution organizing the required trainings, events, and outputs. With the additional time, the entire E3A suite will be made open-source, allowing for broader institutional use and utility.

     

     

    Projected timetable and modifications

     

    Objectives and Timetable

    The objectives/deliverables of the project fit into three broad foci: 1) Develop additional content that is required to address specific agricultural producer needs, 2) offer additional training opportunities for other states desiring to utilize the E3A curriculum, and 3) enhance support options for currently trained educators to improve the effectiveness of programming for producers.    

     

    The four folders will address:

    • Wood Heat – Use of wood energy in home, farm, and ranch properties. Complete
    • Ground source heat pumps (geothermal) and Direct Use Geothermal – High and volatile heating costs (e.g. propane or electricity) are the reality for many producers; Direct-use geothermal is a very site specific opportunity for specialty agriculture production (e.g. greenhouses, aquaculture) that exists in some locations throughout the West. In final review
    • Irrigation efficiency – The largest non-transportation use of energy on many farming operations with significant opportunity for a rapid rate of return. In publishing/editing
    • Solar/wind-powered livestock watering systems – Often the most cost-effective use of renewable energy on livestock operations. In draft version

    All folders will be finalized by June 15, 2015

     

    In addition, the existing folders will be revitalized and made open source, including images. This will allow other institutions and entities to use the material more readily. A protocol for sharing, including citation and reference guidelines related to SARE support, will be completed by May 15, 2015. The solar photovoltaic, home energy, and micro-hydroprower folders will be completed prior to June 15, 2015.

     

    The remaining folders will be made open-source by September 15, 2015.  

     

    State level trainings will be completed at the most opportune (effective) time as determined by the recipient states. Ideally it will occur after the development of the enhanced support infrastructure and additional folders – Two additional trainings will be completed by February 15, 2016

     

    As the E3A toolkit already has infrastructure to support video creation and webinars, the enhanced support tools can also be created rapidly.

     

    Additional webinars (5), devolved into on-line conversations, will be completed by December 31, 2015.

     

    The creation of at least two videos (depending upon funding), focusing on specific, teachable topics focused on agriculture, will be completed by October 15, 2015

     

    The Skype-an-Expert platform will be operational by June 15, 2015. At least two events utilizing the process will be completed by December 31, 2015.

     

    Final evaluation will be conducted from March 15, 2016 to May 15, 2016.

    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.