- Education and Training: extension, farmer to farmer, networking, workshop
- Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
- Pest Management: integrated pest management
- Sustainable Communities: partnerships, social networks
We will expand the capacity of Extension faculty in Oregon to support farmers in making more informed risk-benefit integrated pest management (IPM) decisions. Oregon is a large and agriculturally diverse state where farmers seek alternatives to highly toxic pesticides, and practices that protect the environment and human health. The participants form part of a network of faculty that is intended to share IPM expertise and gain new skills in outcome-based education (OBE) that incorporates advanced IPM decision support tools. Six Extension agents from the network will focus on eight crops to address significant challenges to sustainable IPM across the major climates and farming systems of Oregon. OBE includes consultations with farmers and other stakeholders to jointly develop program outcomes. The resulting outcome statements then serve as the basis for education program design. We will develop locally adapted versions of IPPC tools that address IPM planning, pesticide risk management and climate based decision support. To track impacts we will evaluate skills built among Extension agents, as well as uptake of new approaches to IPM by participating farmers. Once completed the skills acquired in this professional development can be applied to many areas of sustainable agriculture. The project team will co-author a publication on this approach, treating the results from each program as case examples for the joint application of participatory education and locally adapted decision support. The project impacts will also be shared with statewide Extension faculty at the annual Oregon Extension conference.
Project objectives from proposal:
- To enhance technical skills in the use of IPM planning and assessment guidelines, an online pesticide risk assessment tool and weather-based decision-support tools (DSTs). Extension audiences will be engaged and DSTs will be applied to realistic farm-based scenarios that are part of active learning-based Extension education programs. Use of these DSTs reduces the uncertainties associated with farm-level decision-making, and increase the likelihood that lower-risk IPM alternatives will be selected. Though this may be done with a limited number of commodities for the initial projects, participants will apply these approaches with other crops and challenges after the project.
- To conduct training in participatory, outcome-based education program design with a cohort of extension faculty partners. These partners will gain experience in each step of design and evaluation. The design of active learning will be central in training workshops to enable group learning. This set of educational skills will be transferable to other areas of sustainable farming education.
- To increase skills in program evaluation that enable faculty to document the achievement of outcomes and capture impacts of their programs for reporting back to farmer audiences. Evaluation plans will be based upon program outcomes, jointly envisioned with farmer audiences, and from course curricula developed by Extension faculty. Participating faculty will use these evaluation skills to enhance a wide range of education programs.
- To enable a functional statewide network in sustainable IPM extension, that grows, and reinforces itself over time. We will document this approach and the impacts so that it can be replicated in other regions and nationally.