Sustaining the Future of Navajo Rangelands via Mobile Learning Tools to Promote Enhanced Vegetation Management

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2015: $62,260.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2018
Grant Recipient: New Mexico State University
Region: Western
State: Utah
Principal Investigator:
Dr. Gerald Hawkes
New Mexico State University

Annual Reports

Information Products


  • Additional Plants: native plants
  • Animals: bovine, goats, sheep


  • Animal Production: grazing management, grazing - multispecies, range improvement, grazing - rotational, stocking rate
  • Education and Training: extension, youth education
  • Natural Resources/Environment: afforestation, biodiversity, habitat enhancement, indicators, riparian buffers, riverbank protection, wetlands
  • Pest Management: competition, weed ecology

    Proposal abstract:

    Navajo ranchers face ongoing sustainability challenges from drought conditions and invasive weed species on Navajo lands. They have asked the Tri-State Navajo Nation Extension Service (New Mexico, Arizona, Utah) to help improve rangelands, control encroaching weeds and train future Navajo agricultural professionals to assume ecological management of family/tribal lands. Navajo agricultural professionals and producers often live in remote locations, far from Extension offices or tribal advisors. New mobile technologies, available anytime/anywhere, could be used to help identify weed and range problems and suggest ideas for mitigation. Agricultural professionals can help maximize Navajo rangeland sustainability and economic potential by introducing Navajo producers to innovative mobile learning tools that support range management and ecology. Range scientists and mobile application (app) developers from New Mexico State University (NMSU) will partner with Tri-State Navajo Nation Extension professionals to develop an interactive Navajo/English mobile app and support agricultural professionals as they help Navajo range managers maximize the usefulness of this information. Once downloaded onto a smartphone or tablet, the app will function, with images and data, even in remote areas without Internet service. This mobile tool will address specific management needs expressed by Navajo producers and support photographic documentation of vegetation and range conditions, thus eventually allowing Navajo “citizen scientists” to gather current data that can be easily shared with Extension specialists and NMSU researchers. Navajo rangeland managers will guide project development, provide feedback on prototypes and oversee the training schedule during regularly scheduled development meetings with NMSU scientists and the app development team.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The primary objectives for this proposal are to increase Navajo agricultural professionals’ knowledge of up-to-date rangeland management techniques. Navajo agricultural professionals will train Navajo ranchers on these techniques to maximize rangeland ecology, productivity, and sustainability.


    The project team proposes to do this by:


    1. Collecting related articles, resources and Extension specialist/researcher feedback to guide development of interactive tool and resources.

    March 2015 – June 2015.


    1. Developing an innovative mobile tool that allows professionals and producers to access information on effective rangeland management methods while out on the range. The tool will support photographic documentation of vegetation and range conditions, thus creating a forum for Navajo agricultural professionals, ranchers and farmers to gather and share current data with other agricultural professionals and producers.
      1. Project team members will confer with Extension rangeland experts and use existing resources to draw content for use in the tool and ensure it provides updated information.
      2. Navajo Extension professionals will be involved throughout the process to ensure information is correct and effective for their target audience.

    June 2015–June 2016


    1. Helping to train Navajo agricultural professionals on how to effectively educate Navajo agricultural producers in rangeland management and sustainability methods through use of the tool.

    June 2016–September 2016


    1. Implementing the tool in the field, thus increasing Agricultural professionals’ confidence with specific content related to better rangeland management and sustainability through providing “any time, any where” accessibility of information on mobile devices.

    September 2016– March 2017

    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.