- Agronomic: general hay and forage crops
- Animal Production: free-range, grazing management, grazing - rotational
- Crop Production: cover crops, no-till
- Education and Training: farmer to farmer, mentoring, workshop, youth education, technical assistance
- Natural Resources/Environment: riparian buffers
- Production Systems: holistic management
The “Ranchers Mentoring Network; Ranchers Sharing Ideas With Ranchers” project is a partnership effort between Dakota Prairies Resource Conservation and Development Council (RC&D), and members of the North Dakota Grazing Lands Coalition (NDGLC). RC&D is the primary grantee and NDGLC members are collaborators in the project. Mary Stevens is the Executive Director of the RC&D Council and will be the Project Coordinator. Several Coalition members will be closely involved as mentors and educators in this project. The ultimate outcome of this project is to transition agricultural producers to new technology and management strategies that maximize the efficient utilization of sunlight and rainfall, and improve system biodiversity, to ultimately build soil health. This will be accomplished utilizing a holistic systems approach to educate about, and implement management practices and strategies that will result in long-term sustainability and viability while enhancing the entire farm resource base. Classroom and hands-on education to producers and stakeholders in the form of workshops, tours, field events, range camps, and professional improvement sponsorships, will be supported by a strong one-on-one mentorship program to assist producers in the transition to achieve the ultimate outcome. Mentors and the Program Coordinator will continually monitor progress, utilizing a variety of tools including: surveys, verbal comments, attendance, observation, and interviews. Mentors will evaluate individual producer progress and outcomes as they work one-on-one with them in the transition from past practices to new strategies.
Project objectives from proposal:
a) Eight regional management workshops, seminars, or field/pasture tours each year, held at different locations around the state. This will give producers, agency field personnel, and ag-business personnel an opportunity to receive both classroom and hands-on training from specialists and producer-mentors. 50-400 participants typically attend these events, depending on location, producer interest level, and timing. Field tours and similar hands-on events are usually held in mid to late summer, while workshops and seminars are typically held in late fall and winter.
b) Sponsorships for 3-5 individuals (per year) to receive professional improvement training at regional three to five-day workshop/seminars. These are producers who wish to receive more intensive education on specific topics they have chosen, to help them with further implementation or as a train-the-trainer component to equip them to become mentors.
c) Ranchers or lenders range camps will be designed as three to five-day camps on or near a select field/pasture location to provide more intensive hands-on education. There will be 3 ranchers’ camps and two lenders’ camps over the three-year period. Camps will be designed to allow for considerable one-on-one assistance from the trainers, so maximum attendance numbers will not be large and will be determined by availability of training capacity.
d) Mentorship training will be provided by trained mentors who are members of the NDGLC. They will provide up to 825 hours of their time to work one-on-one with individual producers who are working to implement the management strategies and technologies of this project. Mentors will provide up to 16 hours per producer, so it is anticipated that they will mentor at least 50 individuals or families per year.
e) News articles, activity promotional pages, and news release information will be provided for inclusion in select newsletters and publications that reach the target audience of producers, ag landowners, and agency and ag-business-related stakeholders. These will be developed and distributed as needed during the tenure of this project. This information will reach approximately 10,000 individuals and families of the target audience across the state, annually.
f) Brochures that explain the program and provide contact information will be developed and distributed to the target audience on an ongoing basis. Distribution will include handouts at workshops and other project events, individual mailings, email, etc., utilizing existing and updated mailing lists from NDGLC, RC&D, NRCS, and NDSU Extension, and various other stakeholder agencies. This will require at least 10,000 brochures during the term of the project.