Western Integrated Ranch/Farm Education
1. Teach ranchers/farmers a process of integrated management - Western Integrated Ranch/Farm Education, WIRE - in three states: Wyoming, Montana, and Utah.
2. Develop in-depth follow up training in specific resource areas, to meet needs identified by program participants.
3. Evaluate the program in terms of adoption of management concepts and resource sustainability following implementation of the WIRE process by selected cooperators.
Abstract of Results
The primary accomplishments of this project to date have been focused on the first objective listed above. Specific activities directed toward the accomplishment of this objective are outlined below.
Although grant funds were made available in 1995, regional WIRE activities actually began a year before this. These activities included: teams of interested individuals from Utah, Montana, and Idaho extension attending a Wyoming producer course; discussions of methods of offering the WIRE course in each state; and preliminary discussions of methods of funding a regional WIRE effort.
A multi-state coordinating committee was formed to provide leadership to this project for the entire region. This coordinating committee is composed of three representatives from each state. These, representatives include the state team coordinator(s), another state team instructor, and a producer from each state. In addition, the principal investigator also to serves on the committee.
The first regional coordinating committee was held in Thermopolis, Wyoming in March, 1995. Committee function and governance was discussed, as well as how the Wyoming WIRE program would be implemented across the region. In addition, the committee voted to include the state of Idaho on the committee, as they are attempting to institute the WIRE program in that state as well.
Sub-committees were formed for investigating changes and/or updates to the Wyoming WIRE materials to better fit the regional program. In addition, the committee discussed the development of new program materials for use in regional program offerings.
In early 1995, three members of the Wyoming WIRE teaching team traveled to sites in Logan, Utah and Sheridan, Wyoming to provide training to state teams from Utah and Montana, respectively. At these training sessions, teaching materials were supplied, course outlines were discussed, and teams were assisted in organizing themselves in preparation for offering the course in the coming year. After receiving training, state teams began various activities to begin building the WIRE program in their states.
The Montana team conducted informational meetings with the following audiences: the International Beef Symposium, Montana State University (MSU) Animal & Range Departmental Field Days, Montana Stockgrowers Convention, Montana Woolgrowers Convention, Montana Association of Conservation Districts, the Montana State Departments Young Ag Couples program, and at least five Montana county extension producer meetings in southwest Montana. The total number of people reached is estimated to be 670. In addition, the Montana WIRE team held several organization/planning meetings and trained an additional seven MSU county agents who are now part of the Montana WIRE team. This newly formed Montana WIRE team offered the course in two locations this fall to a total of 52 producers representing 23 ranches.
The Utah WIRE team met periodically throughout the year in an effort to develop a new case study operation and format for the course that fit Utah ranch situations. The new case study includes irrigated crop production and public land grazing allotments, both of which are common in Utah. A trial in-service offering of the Utah WIRE course was made in October, in preparation for presentation to producers in January, 1996. The Utah team also marketed the program to the Utah Cattlemens Association and the Utah Wool Growers Association conventions.
The Wyoming team offered their seventh WIRE course in May. This provided an opportunity to bring in a film crew and produce video and audio tape for advertising the program around the Western region. This tape was distributed to all state teams by September. The Wyoming team used the video tape in conjunction with a poster display to advertise the program at the Wyoming state fair, Wyoming Stock Growers, and Wyoming Wool Growers meetings. The poster was also displayed at a Wyoming Public Lands program. In addition, television time was purchased on three TV stations to run the WIRE ad over a period of two weeks. This coupled with a distribution of an audio tape to Wyoming radio stations, helped to raise producer awareness of the program.
The project coordinator took the lead in developing a WIRE workbook for use with producers taking WIRE courses. It is designed to assist producers in working through the first three steps of the WIRE process establish strategic goals, inventory resources, and explore possible enterprises. This workbook along with other WIRE course materials were supplied to state teams for offering producer courses. These materials included the WIRE reference book, course materials and case history book, financial calculators, custom clipboards, and frames for certificates of completion. In addition to these activities, the Wyoming team also continued to offer the WIRE follow up programs in Financial Management and Marketing and Risk Management. The total number of participants in Wyoming WIRE programs was 25 in 1995.
A total of 77 producers participated in WIRE workshops during this reporting period, and an estimated 1,470 ranchers and others learned about the program and its goals through outreach efforts aimed at producer and commodity organizations, and other publicity efforts.
Reported in 1996