Expanding the Role of Extension Professionals in National Drought Monitoring: Building a Regional Climate Team

Expanding the Role of Extension Professionals in National Drought Monitoring: Building a Regional Climate Team

Background

The proposed project will expand scope to initiate the development of a Regional Climate Team of Extension staff and specialists from across the North Central Region.  This project will target at least two staff per Land Grant University/Extension system.

The Project Directors began with a kick-off meeting in Fall 2016 by inviting a select group of North Central Region climate and extension leaders from agriculture, water and natural resources to participate.  This initial kick-off meeting reviewed current and historical efforts to create a team of Extension climate leaders in the Region, assess best management practices for building this team, activities the team could undertake, ongoing operations, and goals for determining the success of the team.  This core group also identified some additional individuals who were willing or had a desire to provide input into creating a Regional Climate Team.

The kick-off meeting was essentially creating a scoping team to explore and determine the direction of team building and communication.  Following this in-person meeting, a schedule of continuing communication was  established, via web meetings and/or teleconference calls.  This time was  spent creating and documenting a structure for the team and its ongoing activities, with an initial focus on drought monitoring, management and response.

A second in-person meeting was held in conjunction with the US Drought Monitor Forum in South Dakota on April 3-5, 2017.  A pre-forum workshop was  held, targeting the expanded group of Extension staff in the North Central Region, and served as the launch of the Regional Climate Team.  The ideal group included about two people per state.  Individuals were invited either by the scoping team, Project Directors, and/or their NCRWN coordinators.  The Regional Climate Team will represent a broad spectrum of field staff, faculty, state specialists, and a diversity disciplines such as water, agriculture (cropping, livestock systems), and natural resources.

It is anticipated that the Regional Climate Team will continue to be active beyond the proposed project completion, to address other water issues beyond drought that affect agriculture and natural resources in the Region.  Sustainability of the Team will be critical to achieving longer-lasting impacts.  Partnerships and funding with other institutions, USDA, private sector and other organizations will be explored in the planning phases, and revisited in an ongoing basis as opportunities and needs arise.