The changing climate has had a great impact on our agricultural systems, affecting growing conditions and the overall profitability, especially on local and regional scales. Applying climate-smart agricultural practices can ensure our farming and food systems are able to adapt to these climate stressors but there are complex barriers to widespread adoption of climate-smart agricultural practices.
The North Central Region Water Network’s climate team, the North Central Climate Collaborative or NC3, is expanding their climate-smart programming in partnership with the Midwest Climate Hub thanks to a new grant from the USDA. The three-year project – “Accelerating the transition to climate-smart strategies by bolstering the extension to Midwest Climate Hub connection” – is being led by Aaron Wilson from Ohio State University, a Research Scientist at the Byrd Polar & Climate Research Center (PERC) and OSU Extension, and a member of the NC3 leadership team.
The team will be using a blend of approaches that combines existing resources into a new model for sustained climate-informed decision making throughout the Midwest. The team will be taking a human-centered participatory approach to create Regional Theories of Change toward achieving climate-informed adaptation and mitigation goals for the Midwest. Culturally grounded approaches reflecting the diverse needs of Midwestern agriculture and communities will be critical, with extension personnel, local and regional organizations and communities, and the Midwest Climate Hub contributing to the mix.
The grant will also allow for a new liaison position that will formalize the relationship between extension and the Midwest Climate Hub. This individual will work closely with partners from Extension across the region and the Midwest Climate Hub to accelerate the generation and dissemination of climate information training to multiple agricultural sectors. This position will also help expand and streamline state-specific tools and farmer stories of successful adaptation strategies for the whole region, and pilot climate curriculum for carbon management as well as youth through 4-H programming and leadership programs.
Funding for the project will also provide pivotal support for a new position at UW-Madison Division of Extension. The position will focus on climate outreach and will direct planning, delivery and evaluation of programs and technical assistance for communities and partners across Wisconsin and the Midwest who are addressing climate change.
“This grant will provide an excellent opportunity to build much needed extension and community capacity around climate. We are grateful for Ohio State’s leadership on this project. We are also excited to have an extension climate outreach specialist at UW-Madison Division of Extension who will work closely with the project team and expand the already strong connection between extension and the Midwest Climate Hub,” notes Rebecca Power, Network Director and one of the principle investigators on the project. “Our changing climate touches almost everything we do at extension in some capacity. We are excited to bring in additional personnel who can help build out our programming on climate locally and across the Midwest.”
More information on the project is forthcoming and will be available through the North Central Region Water Network and the North Central Climate Collaborative. Stay tuned for more updates as the project partners come together!