Development and Implementation of the Agriculture Community Education (ACE) On-line Learning Modules for Northeast Texas Limited Resource Producers

Project Overview

LS22-382
Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2022: $35,667.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2024
Grant Recipient: Northeast Texas Community College
Region: Southern
State: Texas
Principal Investigator:
Rene' McCracken
Northeast Texas Community College

Commodities

  • Agronomic: annual ryegrass, clovers, grass (misc. perennial), hay, millet, sorghum sudangrass, triticale
  • Vegetables: greens (leafy), okra, peppers, tomatoes, turnips
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Animals: goats, poultry, swine
  • Animal Products: eggs, meat

Practices

  • Animal Production: animal protection and health, feed/forage, feed management, feed rations, free-range, grazing management, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, livestock breeding, manure management, mineral supplements, parasite control, pasture renovation, pasture fertility, probiotics, vaccines, watering systems, winter forage
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage, cover crops, crop rotation, double cropping, drought tolerance, fallow, greenhouses, high tunnels or hoop houses, intercropping, irrigation, no-till, nutrient cycling, nutrient management, pollinator habitat, shade cloth, water management, water storage
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, networking, on-farm/ranch research, workshop
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism, e-commerce, value added
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity
  • Pest Management: compost extracts, cultural control, field monitoring/scouting, mulches - killed, mulches - living, mulching - vegetative, trap crops, weeder geese/poultry
  • Production Systems: holistic management, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Soil Management: composting, green manures, organic matter, soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: community services, partnerships, quality of life, social networks

    Proposal abstract:

    The purpose of this education grant proposal is to seek the funding to pay instructors, assistants, and tech advisors to create, build and implement online training modules termed - Agriculture Community Education or "ACE" from existing face to face courses conducted and Northeast Texas Community college's Sustainable Market Farm.  There are 5 planned modules in the following topics: Healthy Soils, Backyard Poultry, Goat Production, Greenhouse Production, and Vegetable Gardening.  The sustainable degree option courses have currently been offered and demonstrated at NTCC since their approval by the Texas State Higher Education Board in 2011. They have proven to be effective in providing instruction to our students on sustainable best practices. However, this subject matter is not easily nor readily accessed by rural farmers within the region primarily due to limited time constraints and lack of financial means to do so.  Online options with on-demand learning would allow working farmers to access education modules on their time schedules and proceed at their own pace - while offering the "lab" component at the sustainable market farm.  For disadvantaged and limited resource producers identified by Farm Service Agency and AgriLife Extension, scholarships provided through outside donations will remove expense obstacles and increase impact of courses. The retrospective post-then-Pre design of assessment will be utilized to assess farmer’s self-reported changes in knowledge, awareness, skills, confidence, attitudes and behaviors. Outside peer review and cooperating farmers will help to refine and measure impact of project and to determine success measures and improve course development.  Total project budget for 2 years is $35,667. Breakdown includes: supplies: $6,425, Outreach: $2,800; Personnel: $23,200; NTCC indirect costs $3,242.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The primary goal of the ACE project is to improve the overall sustainability of small farmers in the Northeast Texas region through completion of continuing education modules. The student learning objectives in each topic area will be evaluated for adoption and if best practice skills improved. This will be evaluated in the following measurable objectives:

    1. Improve the soil health of students completing the modules. Soil Samples pre and post.
    2. Improved flock health of backyard layer flocks. Measured in egg production pre and post.
    3. Reduced parasites and increase weight gain in meat goat production. Fecal Samples pre and post.
    4. Integrated pest management in greenhouse production vegetables. Germination rates pre and post.
    5. Improved production with cover crops and companion planting for vegetable production. Improved yields pre and post.

    Additional skills may be measured for each topical area.  With each skill/behavior, the participant will be asked if they believed that by taking the course that they improved their overall budget by either reducing inputs or increasing profit.

     

    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.