Sustainable Beef, Sheep and Swine Production in WI-What is It? and Where Do We Find It?

Project Overview

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2016: $1,796.00
Projected End Date: 01/15/2018
Grant Recipient: Jackson Count Livestock Committee
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
Project Manager:
Jessie Oberlin
Jackson County, WI Livestock Education Committee

Information Products


  • Animals: bovine, sheep, swine


  • Animal Production: feed/forage, housing, parasite control, animal protection and health, grazing - continuous, free-range, grazing management, livestock breeding, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational, stockpiled forages
  • Education and Training: demonstration, extension, farmer to farmer, mentoring, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: agritourism, new enterprise development, marketing management
  • Soil Management: composting
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Project Abstract

    Workshops and a farm tour will be offered where youth will have the opportunity to define and explore sustainable livestock production. Speakers and presenters will offer real life experiences detailing how they raise beef, sheep and swine sustainably on their home farms. UWEX, tech school and college educators will present research that supports the three pillars of sustainability. Youth participants will have the opportunity to tour farm businesses and industries that produce and market livestock in ways that are profitable in the long run, protect the environment and provide for quality of life.

    Detailed Project Plan and Timeline

    This project will be broken down into one and a half hour workshops held in February, March, April and May of 2017 followed by a two day farm tour in June. (If I am awarded this grant I do have verbal commitments from the workshop presenters and farms/ farmers listed below).

    February Meeting 2017

    Our county agriculture agent and I will lead the first workshop where we will define sustainable beef cattle, sheep and swine production. We will present and discuss the three pillars of sustainability: Economically Viable, Ecologically Sound, and Socially Responsible as they relate to livestock production. Portions of Diane Meyerfeld’s Toward a Sustainable Agriculture we be our guide as we will lead a discussion with the youth and discover what sustainable practices they are already aware of.

    March Meeting 2017

    Guest presenters, Tracy Harter and Jason and Melissa Smith, will discuss and present media showing their experiences raising organic hogs and Heritage breeds and how they direct market breeding stock and value added products from their herds.

    Youth will learn:

    The differences between organic and traditional swine production

    How these producers direct market breeding stock and pork products

    How they add value to the livestock they raise Principles of raising swine on pasture

    April Meeting 2017

    A SARE Fellow/County Ag Agent Adam Hady will give his presentation on sustainable beef cattle production and include information on farm ownership transfer.

    Youth will learn: The principles of rotational grazing
    Ideas for marketing grass-fed beef directly to consumers

    About the road to greater soil health
    Tips for controlling/eliminating soil erosion
    How this production model improves quality of life What the term farm ownership transfer really means

    After this workshop youth participants will be asked to write a short essay exploring the sustainable livestock practices already in place on their home farms.

    May Meeting 2017

    Duane and Deanna Klindworth and their family raise 200 commercial ewes on their Lamalot Acres farm. They are a grass based operation and direct market through farmer’s markets.

    Youth will learn:

    About grass management-intensive rotational grazing vs. mob grazing, stock piling Use of “alternative” crops for feed sources

    How letting the sheep do the harvesting improves quality of life

    How to have fun doing what you love and make a profit How to navigate the Farmer’s Market system

    Advantages of networking with fellow producers

    After this workshop youth will be asked to write an essay describing how they can utilize knowledge gained from these workshops and apply it to their home farms and to their 4-H project animals.

    June 2017

    After the youth participants have attended three out of the four workshops and completed their two assigned essays they will be invited to attend a two day farm tour. I chose to make these stipulations because I want to know that the kids are committed to this learning experience.

    We will visit two farms, Organic Valley Co-op, the UW-Madison Research Station at Lancaster, WI and the swine unit at UW-Platteville. The farms that we will visit will showcase the sustainable principles that the youth have learned about in the winter/spring workshops and will include: managed grazing operations for beef and sheep, different avenues of direct marketing, and Heritage hogs on pasture. At Organic Valley Co-op at Cashton/LaFarge, WI we will learn about their pool of producers who market their products through Organic Prairie Meats. The Lancaster Research Station is a facility that researches efficient beef cattle production, intensive rotational grazing, water quality, conservation and no-till planting production systems. UW-Platteville’s swine unit tour will include Berkshire and crossbred boars, their group penned sow herd, and manure composting.

    In conclusion, I believe that this project will give youth participants an understanding of livestock production based on the three pillars of sustainability. The tour will enhance the basics that the youth discover through the beef cattle, sheep and swine workshops. It is my hope and goal that this will be the beginning of this group of kids’ journey with sustainability because they are the future of our livestock industry.

    Resources Used

    In the process of putting together this proposal I have gathered a strong network of resources:

    I contacted Diane Mayerfeld, WI SARE Coordinator. She gave me some important contacts: Rhonda Gildersleeve-Extension Grazing Expert and Tracy Harper-Head Instructor at Western Technical College’s Ag Program who specializes in swine and organic production. Diane introduced me to her Toward a Sustainable Agriculture curriculum that we will utilize.

    I have conferred with two SARE Fellows in setting up this proposal: Trisha Wagner is the Extension Ag Agent here in Jackson County and Adam Hady who is an Extension Ag Agent in Richland County, WI. They will both be workshop presenters.

    I have discussed this plan with Arin Crooks who manages the Research Station at Lancaster, WI and is also on the WI Beef Council. He has provided great ideas for the tour in his part of the state.

    I have used the following websites to gather information: SARE, WI Sheep Producers, WI Pork Producers, WI Beef Council, Organic Valley, Organic Prairie Meats, UW-Platteville and Pasture Prime Farm.


    All workshops and the tour will be recorded on video so all information can be easily accessed. I will share what I have learned in various ways:

    I will post photos on our county livestock exhibitor’s Facebook page as well as the state WI Extension Youth Livestock Facebook page. We have a great local newspaper who really supports the area’s youth, I would contact them and do a feature article. There are two state agricultural papers ( The Country Today and the Agri- view) that I would also contact to tell the story of our journey.

    Our state Extension Youth Livestock Agent, Bernie O’Rourke, would be another contact that I would make to volunteer to share information, video, etc. at meetings to tell other educators about the SARE grant and what it did for the youth in our county. I am willing to assist other youth educators who want to apply for this grant. I have contact with volunteer 4-H leaders, Ag instructors, and 4-H Agents as we meet and discuss livestock while our teams compete at quiz bowl, skillathon and evaluation contests at the district and state level. I enjoy the challenge of incorporating new and innovative teaching ideas/subjects and will certainly share this program with them. I learned about the SARE Youth Educator Grant at a grant writing workshop hosted by UW Extension in our county. I would be willing to tell my story at other grant writing workshops..

    Student and Community Impact

    We are one of the poorest counties in Wisconsin. I always tell the kids that I coach to “Think Big” and “Dream Big”. It is my hope that this program will be a life changing experience for the kids that I work with in Jackson County. Being a part of this program will teach them new and different practices regarding livestock production that they can implement on their home farms with their own livestock projects. It will allow them to network with livestock producers to share stories and ideas. They will travel to new places. When I started this grant proposal I asked the youth on my livestock team where they would like to tour and visit if they could choose any farm/business/school in the state. They have given me excellent feedback.

    I believe that the knowledge gained by our county’s youth could be shared in our community. We have a county program called Summer of Science, these kids could present at one of the workshops offered and mentor other youth. Sometimes working with youth is an easier way to spread knowledge in the farming community than targeting adults only. Parents are much more willing to consider “new and different” production practices if it is the kids presenting the idea to the family. My goal for knowledge gained by the youth participants will spread to their families, 4-H Clubs, FFA Chapters, and industries that support their farming operations.

    I would use the essays and an exit interview to measure knowledge gained and attitudes changed by this project. I would take head counts of youth, farmers, educators, youth volunteers, ag professionals and families reached through this program.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Enable 4-H youth to define and explore sustainable beef, sheep and swine production through a series of workshops and a two-day farm tour, and apply what they have learned to their home farms and 4-H.
    2. Provide students with a chance to network with livestock producers, to share stories and ideas and travel to new places.
    3. Spread knowledge gained by the youth participants to their families, 4-H Clubs, FFA Chapters, and industries that support their farming operations through videos of workshops, Facebook posts, and articles in local newspapers.
    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.