Professional Development for Extension Professionals and Educators on Land Use and Management Practice to Enhance Water Quality

Professional Development for Extension Professionals and Educators on Land Use and Management Practice to Enhance Water Quality

Land Use and Management Practices to Enhance Water Quality Workshop took place on June 22-24 and June 28-29. Below are supporting presentations, PowerPoints, and other materials for your use: 

Presentations from workshops:


PowerPoints from workshops:

Nutrient & Manure Management
Riparian Ecosystems

Forms and Documents

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Escherichia coli (E. coli) has been identified as the leading cause of impairment to surface water throughout the plains states. The leading source of this impairment has been identified as non-point source pollution from livestock grazing and livestock feeding and handling operations. Other common sources of impairment that have been linked to livestock production include fecal coliform, excess nutrients and eutrophication. Best management practices have been identified for 1) nutrient and manure management and 2) land use practices within watersheds that enhance water quality. This NCRWN project developed an Extension program providing technical in-service training and program curriculum on 1) land use of riparian ecosystems and 2) manure and nutrient management for Extension Specialists, Extension Agents, Educators at Regional Universities, Community Colleges, 1994 Institutions and technical service providers within the Great Plains Region. Out of 37 survey respondents, 89.2 percent believed that they developed new connections or contacts with management experts as a result of this project’s trainings. Confidence in knowing what participants were communicating to their clients increased by 45 percent or greater for both manure and nutrient management as well as the riparian ecosystems topic areas. Understanding of all topic areas was increased “a large extent” ranging from 16 to over 40%. It is clear that this was a necessary and useful project as out of 19 workshop follow-up survey respondents, 63.16% have already incorporated nutrient and manure management principles and technical skills into their outreach and programming efforts. Additionally, 61.11% (18 respondents) have already incorporated the principles and technical skills learned about the impacts of land use on water quality as well as best management practices to enhance watershed health and water quality into their programming and outreach efforts.

Purpose and Need

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Escherichia coli (E. coli) has been identified as the leading cause of impairment to surface water throughout the plains states. The leading source of this impairment has been identified as non-point source pollution from livestock grazing and livestock feeding and handling operations. Other common sources of impairment that have been linked to livestock production include fecal coliform, excess nutrients and eutrophication. Best management practices have been identified for 1) nutrient and manure management and 2) land use practices within watersheds that enhance water quality. The purpose of this extension program was to provide technical in-service training and program curriculum on 1) land use of riparian ecosystems and 2) manure and nutrient management for Extension Specialists, Extension Agents and Educators at Regional Universities, Community Colleges, 1994 Institutions and technical service providers within the Great Plains Region. The program was comprised of an in-service training held within North Dakota and South Dakota/Nebraska. Each in-service was 2 full days with half of the in-service allocated to each of the topic areas. Each in-service included a classroom component, a hands-on technical component, and wrap-up discussion. The technical training portion of the in-services was used to demonstrate assessment methods, sampling techniques and exhibit management practices. This hands-on training actively engaged participants and project partners resulting in co-learning and co-discovery of new knowledge. Program participants developed technical skills and knowledge, enhancing their ability to develop innovative solutions for the management of livestock and the enhancement of water quality. Upon completion of the in-service, participants were supplied with curriculum on the topics covered to use in their Extension programs and courses. The in-service and curriculum has empowered Extension Professionals, Educators, and Technical Service Providers to conduct programs and course work on nutrient and manure management and land use within riparian ecosystems, increasing the awareness of producers and students on the topic in the short term and resulting in changes in land management and water quality in the long term.

Goals

The overall goal of this project was to empower Extension Professionals and Educators to conduct programs and course work on nutrient and manure management and land use within riparian ecosystems, increasing the awareness of producers and students in these topic areas. Specific goals included: 1) Increase Extension and tribal college professionals, educators and technical service providers’ awareness, knowledge and technical expertise about potential issues regarding riparian ecosystems affecting their constituents. (NCRWN goal: Increase multi-state connectivity and learning among university professionals and partners.) 2) Increase Extension and tribal college professionals, educators and technical service providers’ awareness, knowledge and technical expertise about potential issues regarding nutrient and manure management affecting their constituents. (NCRWN goal: Increase multi-state connectivity and learning among university professionals and partners.) 3) Curriculum development for proper management of riparian ecosystems and responsible use of manure as a source of nutrients. (NCRWN goal: Build capacity of universities to address multi-state water-related issues and opportunities, including: Expanding successful extension programs to additional states; and Generating new funding for extension programming through competitive grants, contracts for services, or fee-based programs?)

Methods and Activities

The major activities and methods used to address the project goals were as follows:

Land Use & Management Project Working Group

  • The project team demonstrated collaboration between university researchers, Extension educators and partners. The project team consists of a core, North Central Team responsible for the grant activities, as well as state and local partners who have consistently provided input to curriculum development, curriculum delivery and the in-service training planning processes. Table 1 lists the project team members who have contributed through regular meeting participation.
  • Table 2 lists the additional connections to this project that provided feedback and assisted with trainings.
  • Regular web/phone based conference calls were conducted for program planning and curriculum development.
  • Engagement in the project (among other items) was assessed through an end-of-project (EOP) survey administered by the North Central Region Water Network (referred to as the NCRWN EOP survey).

Curriculum Development

  • The core project team split into two working groups to develop presentations (12) as well as a classroom activity and field demonstrations (5) to meet project objectives. The project team split into one group that focused on riparian management and one that focused on nutrient management. The groups developed these presentations to be user friendly for Extension professionals, educators and technical service providers by including notes for every slide as well as recordings from workshops to demonstrate suggested delivery. Supplemental presentation aids developed for the trainings include fact sheets, flash drives containing presentations and supplemental materials and field guide cards.

In-service Trainings

  • The project team organized two in-service trainings titled, “Land Use & Management Practices to Enhance Water Quality Training,” to provide technical in-service training and program curriculum on 1) land use of riparian ecosystems and 2) manure and nutrient management for Extension Professionals, Educators, and Technical Service Providers within North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska. The trainings were held in Sioux Falls, SD, June 22-24, 2016 and Bismarck, ND, June 28-29, 2016.
  • The trainings included both classroom and field components focused on 1) land use of riparian ecosystems and 2) manure and nutrient management. Topics covered in the land use of riparian ecosystems portion of the workshop included: influence of land conversion on water quality, how streams work, and management practices to enhance watershed health and water quality. Topics covered in the manure and nutrient management portion of the workshop included: composting manure and mortalities, manure value and brokering, proper manure application techniques, and liquid manure management. Participants developed technical skills and knowledge enhancing their ability to develop innovative solutions for the management of livestock and the enhancement of water quality. Upon completion of the in-service, participants were supplied with curriculum on the topics covered to use in their Extension programs and other educational courses.
  • We tried to connect with our target audience by developing save the date post cards that were distributed to attendees at the annual Watershed Coordinator Meetings (Figure 1.) In addition, the information was distributed to appropriate listservs (Extension, university, NRCS, watershed coordinators, soil conservation districts) in the participating states. Event information was included in the NCRWN newsletter and posted on the NCRWN website.

Outcomes

NCRWN Goal 1

Strengthen existing or create new collaborations between university researchers and extension educators. Existing collaborations were strengthened and new relationships were formed between university researchers and Extension educators. The indicator is the formation and maintenance of the Project Team shown in Table 1. Project participants included Extension specialists and educators from four different states within the NCRWN. This outcome is further supported by the NCRWN EOP survey. The NCRWN EOP survey indicates that as a result of the Land Use & Management Project, and using a scale of 1 (not at all) to 4 (a large extent), participants increased awareness of people in other states who are working on similar topics (mean = 2.64), formed new working relationships with University Extension professionals across states (2.71), deepened existing working relationships with University Extension professionals across states (2.71) and are interested in engaging in future North Central region collaborative efforts (2.93). Through the curriculum development and the trainings, team members learned from those with different specialties as our core team was made up of a diverse group including: nutrient management specialists, environmental engineers and natural resource specialists.

During meetings the training team members often commented on how much they were learning from the material developed and presented by other team members. The in-service trainings that were part of the trainings further strengthened the relationship between the project team and attendees, including 15 Extension educators from 4 states within the NCRWN that attended the trainings. Post-training surveys indicated that 89.2% of respondents developed new connections with land management experts that they could contact with questions. Follow-up surveys conducted 2 months after the training revealed that 41.2% of respondents had consulted an expert they connected with at the training.

NCRWN Goal 2

Increase multi-state connectivity and learning among university professionals and partners. The primary objectives of the project were to improve participants’ knowledge in the topic areas. As evidence of knowledge gained, Figures 3 and 4 demonstrate that participants increased their knowledge in all topic areas that were covered by the project in-service trainings. Specifically, understanding was increased “a large extent” by more than 40% for each of the manure and nutrient management topics and from 16-48% for riparian ecosystems topics. FigureContact:

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Figure 4. Chart displaying increased understanding of principles and technical skills related to riparian ecosystems. When asked about their level of confidence in knowing that what they’re communicating about manure and nutrient management is important, participants increased their confidence from 32.43% being moderately to very confident before the workshops to 80.55% being moderately to very confident after the workshops. Similarly, when asked about their level of confidence in knowing that what they’re communicating about riparian ecosystems is important, participants increased their confidence from 43.24% being moderately to very confident before the workshops to 88.33% being moderately to very confident after the workshops. As a result of this project, team members and participants networked and learned from each other’s experiences and out of 37 post-workshop survey respondents, 89.2% believed that they developed new connections or contacts with management experts. The follow-up survey revealed that 41% of respondents have consulted contacts made at the trainings regarding one of the topic areas.

NCRWN Goal 3

Build capacity of universities to address multi-state water-related issues and opportunities, including: Expanding successful extension programs to additional states; and Generating new funding for extension programming through competitive grants, contracts for services, or fee-based programs. A series of curriculums (adaptable to each state) were developed to educate regional professionals about proper management of riparian ecosystems and responsible use of manure as source of nutrients. Twelve presentations, available for viewing here http://northcentralwater.org/professional-development-for-extension-professionals-and-educators-on-land-use-and-management-practice-to-enhance-water-quality-2/, were created in a way that University Extension educators along with program partners can use the resources in their states after making minimal changes to fit appropriate regulations. There was also one classroom activity and four field demonstrations created that are simple to replicate and further aid in presentation understanding. As shown in Figure 5, respondents (19) of the training follow-up surveys, 63.16% have already incorporated nutrient and manure management principles and technical skills into their outreach and programming efforts. Manure management regulations, composting of manure and mortalities and best management practices for manure application and spreading calibrations has been incorporated into programming and outreach by 52.63% of respondents. Thirty-six percent of respondents have even tackled valuing and marketing manure, one of the hardest workshop topics.

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Similar results were documented for the riparian ecosystems training in the follow-up surveys, as shown in Figure 6. Survey respondents (18) indicated that 61.11% have already incorporated the principles and technical skills learned about the impacts of land use on water quality as well as best management practices to enhance watershed health and water quality into their programming and outreach efforts. Educational efforts on riparian function/processes have been implemented by 55.55% of respondents and the influence(s) of vegetation on riparian functions/processes has been incorporated by 50% of respondents. Finally, 38.89% of workshop participants who responded to the follow-up survey have provided outreach on methods for assessing riparian health and water quality as well as cost-share opportunities to landowner looking to implement BMPs.

Workshop follow-up survey respondents have estimated reaching an estimated 1,200 clients in the 2-month period since the trainings. Following are select comments from respondents:

• “Utilizing the knowledge and skills obtained at the land use/water quality training, I am able to provide landowners/producers with better technical and financial assistance through the implementation of best management practices.”
• “Water quality & riparian has been shared with over 400 elementary and 8th graders during Conservation Days.”
• “I have added content to my college class relative to spreader calibration and regulations.”

NCRWN Goal 4

Leverage institutional and financial resources outside of the university in the short and long term. In the short-term, total Extension match to this project was $15,166 in salary/benefits, materials/supplies, and travel and partner match was $5,500. In the NCRWN EOP survey, 50% of respondents indicated that they either had applied for additional funding or intended to apply for additional funding. Three respondents indicated that participation in this project had resulted in them applying for funding in the topic area of which 2 were successful receiving $110,000 in funding. In addition, 29% indicated plans to apply for additional funding.

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Contact

Miranda Meehan
Extension Livestock Environmental Stewardship Specialist, North Dakota State University
701-231-7683
miranda.meehan@ndsu.edu