Extension Sustainable Agriculture Training in Colorado and Wyoming
1. Provide increased awareness of the concepts and principles of sustainable agriculture.
2. Share information on projects, needs, expertise and resources throughout the region.
3. Encourage the development of regional links, e.g., partnerships, leadership and networking.
Abstract of Results
The purpose of this project was to provide a forum for a target group of 300-400 Extension and agricultural professionals. The forum allowed them to discuss sustainable agriculture concepts, helped them focus on a definition of sustainable agriculture that was applicable in their field, and encouraged the sponsorship of sustainable agriculture concepts and practices.
Two educational programs were developed and packaged as nationally broadcast satellite transmissions. They were advertised via state Extension channels, mailed advertisements and electronically on the Internet. Both broadcasts were duplicated in KU and C band formats to ensure broad reception. Satellite reception and participation were offered to any interested parties, including Extension staff, conservation district members and university faculty. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) encouraged their employees in the eight-state region to participate and Extension personnel were instructed to invite the participation of as many producers and private resource managers as possible.
The first program was a live teleconference in which four speakers gave commentary and was broadcast on January 30, 1995, from Colorado State University. Live telephone calls precipitating open discussion were fed to both the speakers and an ancillary, three-member panel. The initial commentary took forty-five minutes; numerous calls took up the remainder of the ninety minute program. Viewers and participants throughout the eight state area interacted from sites in Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Additional sites, requesting participation as a result of the advertisements, were linked up as requests arrived.
Within the original target group, the program was broadcast to a total of 140 sites in the eight western state area, reaching 1,919 viewer/participants. Participants included Extension staff, NRCS, other agency representatives, and conservation district personnel, as well as producers and members of special interest groups.
The second program was a videotaped presentation that aired on April 10, 1995. This program was a collaborative effort between the University of Wyoming and Nebraska Educational Television. It contained short segments of sustainable agriculture showcase projects from Colorado, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming that demonstrated individual and diverse applications of sustainable agriculture practices.
Taped copies of both programs were made available to all collaborative groups and to any other interested parties on a cost basis. Colorado, Wyoming and a number of the other participating states used the live broadcasts or taped copies to help facilitate meetings to develop in-state strategic plans for sustainable agriculture.
Producers in several of the western states have recognized parallel efforts in other states and have undertaken collaborative contact efforts as a direct result of this project. This includes: hay producers on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming contacting hay purchasers on the Navajo Reservation; Guam fruit growers contacting University of Wyoming faculty about potential pest controls; Hawaii and Wyoming graziers exchanging information about using prescribed goat grazing to control weeds, etc.
More significantly, however, is the growing understanding within the national professional resource management community that sustainable agriculture is much like the concept of conservation: it is site-specific and must be conformed to ecosystem, operation and location in each instance. We are continually receiving additional feedback from the regions where the information was distributed.
Reactions from Farmers and Ranchers
Some producers have indicated that they can now recognize sustainable agriculture practices and realize there is a need to modify existing production approaches. They requested the development of comprehensive management systems that can incorporate sustainable agriculture concepts on a site-by-site basis. Producers in Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico indicated that they felt the second program was more useful.
Reported in 1996