Excess nutrients from agricultural lands have been identified as a major contributor to harmful algal blooms and hypoxic zones around the world and specifically in the Western Lake Erie Basin and Gulf of Mexico (Diaz and Rosenberg, 2008; Carmichael, 2008). Extension Educators at the county level play a critical role as local change agents in the promotion of new approaches to farm management.
The goals of this project are to conduct a needs assessment and, based on the results of that assessment, to design a mentoring program for early-career Extension Educators focusing on systems approaches to nutrient management for water quality at the field, farm, and watershed scale. The project team will convene a multidisciplinary expert panel to identify the knowledge and skills needed to facilitate systems approaches to nutrient management. Early service Extension educators from around the region will be interviewed to assess current levels of knowledge and skills in this area. The final report will identify educational needs and recommend strategies for addressing those needs through a mentoring program.
Beyond providing information on systems approaches, the webinars will also provide extension educators with an opportunity to identify and address gaps in their own knowledge and skills that might prevent them from facilitating a system approaches to nutrient management at the farm, field and watershed scales.
A program plan for sustainable mentoring program to address the needs of early-career extension educators who are interested in promoting a systems approach to nutrient management will be produced by the project team and delivered via a webinar in August 2015. Needs assessment activities will occur during the Spring and Summer of 2015.
Program Director, The Ohio State University