Enhancing the Exploring Energy Efficiency – Alternatives (E3A) Curriculum

2014 Annual Report for 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

Enhancing the Exploring Energy Efficiency – Alternatives (E3A) Curriculum

Summary

The PDP project has 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, but the project has significantly changed sue to personnel turnover at Montana State University, the key partner on this project. Sarah Hamlem, co-PI, left MSUE and her position has not yet been refilled. The replacement contact, Dr. Michael Vogel, retired effective July 1, 2014. The remaining contact, Torie Bunn, who was serving a part-time lesion to the E3A project (4 hours/week) also left MSUE in October 2014. These changes have necessitated a significant reevaluation of the project focus and goals. Progress is still being made, including an E3A training held for the University of Alaska- Fairbanks, numerous webinars, and three draft folders and one completed folder.

The project has also incorporated new partners, including University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.

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

A no-cost extension will be sought due to personnel changes and the desire to host additional trainings with the updated material.

Objectives/Performance Targets

From project 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.

Accomplishments/Milestones

Folder Development
Released – Wood heat posted at www.e3a4u.info. The wood heat folders were development in conjunction with MSUE, with Martin Twer as the lead author.
In draft – 1) Ground source heat pumps and direct use geothermal: The folders are awaiting final editing and publication. The content was developed under contract with UAF. 2) Irrigation efficiency: The folders are undergoing review. They were developed, free of charge for use of the E3A curriculum, by UNL. All three folders are expected to be fully released by March 2015. 3) Solar stock water: Information was supplied under gratis contract from NMSU, but the folders still require significant additions. UWE is leading the revisions and additional writing. The folders are expected by April 2015.

Trainings
University of Alaska Fairbanks, including their agricultural experiment station, requested a formal E3A training. Despite the loss of a co-presenter from MSUE, UWE honored the request. A trainings held April 14-16, training 16 Extension and other UAF employee.

Additional trainings are planned, with a training scheduled for June 15-17, 2015 in Lander, WY. Other states from the Western region will; be invited to attend.

Media products:

Seven webinars were completed in 2014. The following webinars were offered:

  • The State of E3A – Mike Vogel and Torie Haraldson, Montana State University, and Milton Geiger, University of Wyoming
  • Agricultural Energy Audits: E3 in Montana Agriculture – Myla Kelly, Montana State University
    • 18 attendees, representing universities and USDA across the country
    • Program rated as very helpful
  • University of Missouri Farm Energy Module- Amanda Marney, University of Missouri Extension
    • 20 attendees, representing universities and USDA across the country
    • Program only rated as moderately helpful
  • NRCS Services for Ag-Sector Landowners – Kip Pheil, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
    • 13 attendees, all USDA representatives
  • Small Hydropower Regulation – Milton Geiger, University of Wyoming
  • USDA Rural Development Incentives – Lorraine Werner, USDA Rural Development
    • 12 attendees, seminar rated as only moderately helpful
  • Exploratory Program Trunks – Torie Haraldson, Montana State University
    • 11 attendees, all University or USDA affiliated with agricultural producers

Selected webinars are available at: http://e3a4u.info/webinars/.

Survey and evaluation strategies were implemented for the later webinars, as Torie Haraldson and I believed the product needed improvement.

No additional media have been created nor have funds been expended. These products will be created in the spring 2015, with a focus on micro/small hydro and ground source heat pumps.

Collaboration with NESARE Energy IQ PDP Project:
After a cordial initial conversation in February 2014, the Energy IQ project team proceeded to create their own New England-specific curriculum. They share the content with the E3A project. Some will be incorporated into new updated farm energy management folder.

Other activities:
The website is regularly updated and, due to diminished MSUE capacity, was brought under the technical support of UWE.
UWE is also leading an effort to make the E3A curriculum a full open-source resource, allowing for “wiki-pedia” style edits to the content. The existing images in the folders are being updated with images suitable for open source. All new content is being designed to be a full-open source material, with only the WSARE logo made a permanent feature. The open source design will maximize the ability for other institutions to use the materials and help to keep the materials up to date.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Despite the loss of keep personnel, the project is continuing to keep the E3A project relevant and expanding the available resources for producers. The following outcomes were specified in the grant proposal:

At its core, this project will allow western agricultural producers to make more informed decisions about the utilization of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in their operations. With an emphasis on readily measured results, the outcomes for this project are as follows:
Educators will increase training and educational outreach to agricultural producers. This outreach may take a variety of forms, including informal one-on-one discussions, formal workshops, and/or references to materials and tools. Participants in the trainings will be expected to implement programming in their own counties to further leverage this investment. Educational outreach may include breakout sessions at commodity organizations annual conventions, agency training sessions for their own staff, etc. Extension and other agricultural educators already possess a robust method for quantitatively recording these contacts and their qualitative impact.

A support system for energy educators in the Western SARE states will be developed. This support will enable greater education capacity and will leverage resources available in MT and WY throughout the WSARE region. In the long term, it will establish a network structure that will enable educators to adapt and respond to emerging energy issues. The use of these resources is readily quantified.
Producers and educators will be able to more easily access unbiased, research-based information through traditional agricultural educator networks.
Producers will apply the available information in their decision-making processes. This will not necessarily result in more installations, but it will lead to more cost effective and efficient actions.
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. It increases the relevance of agricultural professional in the burgeoning agriculture/energy nexus.

These outcomes are being addressed, although at a delayed rate of implementation.

Collaborators:

Sarah Hamlen

shamlen@montana.edu
Energy Education Associate Specialist
Montana State University
705 Osterman Drive
Bozeman, MT 59715
Office Phone: 4062097679
Dr. Glen Whipple

glen@uwyo.edu
Associate Dean/Director
University of Wyoming Extension
1000 E. University Ave.
Dept 3354
Laramie, WY 82071
Office Phone: 3077665124