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Cornell University Cooperative Extension Rrea Program

Investigators
Smallidge, Peter
Institutions
Cornell University
Start date
2011
End date
2016
Objective

RREA at Cornell has sufficient staff and resources to focus on four primary issues: forest stewardship, wildlife resources, food safety and security, and invasive species. Biomass for energy and climate variability are important, and will be addressed via a connected but peripheral strategy.

I. RREA Goal: Enhance resource management on working forests.

Issue: Forest Stewardship.

Forest Stewardship Objectives: (1) Increase awareness among woodland owners for management practices that support healthy and productive working forests. (2) Increase knowledge of owners for decision making related to increased production and profitability in conjunction with sustaining or restoring forest health. (3) Increase the awareness of town and county policy makers for the positive role of healthy and productive private woodlands.

Issue: Forest Wildlife Resources.

Wildlife Objectives: (1) Increase owner and manager knowledge of the impacts of deer on forest health. (2) Increase owner and manager knowledge of strategies that reduce the impacts of deer on the regeneration of hardwood forests. (3) Provide landowners and managers with information and tools regarding trade-offs associated with managing for different species and outcomes. Issue: Food Production, Safety, and Security.

Forest-based Food Objectives: (1) Increase woodland owner awareness for opportunities to utilize existing forest land for food production. (2) Increase the profitability of existing producers through more efficient production systems, value-added products, and improved marketing. (3) Develop educational materials that help woodland owners gain the confidence necessary to initiate a forest-based food system.

Working Forests Outcomes: 1.Statewide marketing campaign that connects woodland owners and managers with CCE resources. 2.Active participation of program staff and trained volunteers in workshops, conferences, and seminars. 3.Educational resources for county educators to use with town and county officials. University interns mentored in practices of extension education. 4.Demonstration sites for sustainable and productive working private woodlands. 5.Online courses, networks, webinars, video, and resources that support productive working forests. 6.Applied research to identify improvements in production systems and conservation of habitats.

II. RREA Goal: Ensuring Healthy Ecosystems.

Issue: Invasive and interfering species.

Invasive and Interfering Species Objectives: (1) Increase owner and manager awareness for and knowledge of management strategies, and corresponding consequences, to control invasive and interfering species. (2) Build upon partnerships with other organizations who are involved with private land management for the control of invasive and interfering species. Ensuring Healthy Ecosystem Outputs 1.Field workshops to demonstrate issues, practices, and safety considerations 2.Demonstration sites illustrating management practices 3.Bulletins and fact sheets 4.Expanded intra- and inter-organizational partnerships for applied research and outreach 5.Conferences and seminars 6.Online resources such as written materials, social networks, webinars, and narrated presentations

More information

NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY:
Forest property owners often lack the awareness, knowledge and skills to effectively and sustainably use and sustain their property. The number of owners has increased in recent years, owners desire a variety of outputs from their property, and these properties are important to the well-being of society. RREA is part of Cornell's ForestConnect program and receives counsel from an advisory committee of owners, educators, agency personnel and industry staff. RREA via Cornell University Cooperative Extension will develop educational programs that support owners in their decision making process. Owners need to be aware of issues that limit sustainability. They need to understand the fullness and complexity of factors as they make decisions about if and how to manage the forests and habitats on their property. Owners may produce timber, firewood, other biofuels, maple syrup and other local foods, and specific or general types of wildlife habitat. These outputs are typically compatible, but burgeoning deer populations, overabundant invasive and interfering plants, and past exploitive harvesting complicate management decisions and options. Related to these opportunities and threats, educational programs will increase awareness of the issues, knowledge of the principles and strategies, and skills for implementation. A variety of educational venues will be used to connect owners and other stakeholders with educational resources while balancing cost, efficiency, and effectiveness. In-service training will support county programs, and connect extension educators and state specialists. Online resources include webinars, online courses, moderated social networks, accessible written content, and video training. Peer-to-peer volunteers will be trained to share their experiences and help owners connect to professionals for technical assistance. Workshops, field days and conferences will connect owners directly with educators, program staff and specialists. Program staff will support partners who share similar goals in resource management, particularly owner associations, through conferences, workshops, and written materials. Several outcomes are anticipated. A subset of specific example outcomes include: Ex. 1 Woodland owners will be aware of issues that affect their ownership objectives. The owners will have a deeper knowledge of the context and solutions for issues, and will develop and use skills to implement effective solutions. Ex. 2 Woodland owners will be able to assess their objectives within the context of regional issues and societal values, and they will make informed decisions about priorities for their woodlands. Ex. 3 Owners, managers and interested citizens will improve their understanding of the ecological characteristics of invasive species and how these characteristics relate to management options. Ex. 4 Maple and forest livestock producers will possess the skills to profitably and sustainably produce high quality local foods while enhancing environmental conditions. Formal and informal evaluations will document progress towards these outcomes.

APPROACH:
Online: A variety of online media will be used. Webinars will be offered monthly, with additional special feature webinars on an as needed basis. The social network site http://CornellForestConnect.ning.com will be further developed for interactions among stakeholders and to share resources. Two online courses will be launched in the first year, one on tree identification and the other on woodlot management for woody biofuels. Additional online courses are anticipated. Twitter will be minimally used, but with a maintained presence. The base page for the program, www.ForestConnect.info will include all program-relevant educational materials. Video will be uploaded to YouTube and also distributed through the social network. RREA funds as necessary will ensure adequate computer hardware and software. Peer-volunteers: Master Forest Owner volunteers will continue to connect with private woodland owners. Annually there will be a new volunteer training and three regional refreshers. Regional coordinators will assist with program management. Demonstration sites: University and private woodlands will be used, and may demonstrate practices such as, management of interfering vegetation, silvopasture, woody biomass harvests, deer impacts, and silvicultural practices. Applied research: Applied research within the context of direct support of extension education will address issues and questions that lack an adequate research basis. RREA funds will at most provide a minimal supplement to applied research funds. Topics may include vegetation management, controlling deer impacts, woody biofuel production, and silvicultural manipulations. Workshops and field days: Field-based events will be held with CCE educators and on Cornell lands to describe and illustrate sustainable practices. Conferences and seminars: Indoor events will provide audiences with seminar style learning on a variety of topics. Mass media: A marketing campaign in regional weekly newspapers, four weeks twice per year, will draw attention to educational program resources. Educator inservice: An annual forestry-maple training for CCE educators will provide an opportunity to share program strategies, and interact with campus specialists. Written materials: Staff and specialists, with colleagues, will develop fact sheets, bulletins, and article series on RREA topics. Written materials will typically be available online. Organizational support: Staff will work with partner organizations, for example NYFOA and the state forestry agency, on projects of mutual interest and that enhance working forest conditions. Evaluation of program activities will happen through informal exit surveys, documentation of participation at events, web-based analytical software, and calculations that project behavior changes. We will also conduct formal surveys of people who use programs to understand their response, and to help adjust our estimates of changes from non-surveyed program activities.

PROGRESS: 2012/10 TO 2013/09
Target Audience: TARGET AUDIENCES; The primary audience is the private family forest owner and Cornell Cooperative Extension educators. Other key audiences include maple syrup producers, livestock graziers, nature conservation organization staff and members, foresters, loggers, and agency staff. All marketing efforts are designed and intended to be broadly distributed. All events and interactions are intended to be accommodating to all people of any background. EFFORTS - Efforts include the development of written fact sheets, articles for publications, webinars, demonstration sites, applied research, email correspondence, written content on blogs and social media sites, bulletins, presentations at lay and professional seminars and conferences, woodswalks, support for partner organizations, and training of students for support of extension projects. Changes/Problems: Nothing Reported What opportunities for training and professional development has the project provided? **50 people attended two separate statewide Master Naturalist Training Programs, and 15 people attended the summer Naturalist Workshop. Master Naturalist volunteers contributed over 900 hours of volunteer service in 2013. ** Two day-long silvopasture workshops were offered for woodlot owners, foresters, graziers, and agency staff. There were 44 participants from NY, PA, CT, WV, VT, and NH. They owned or managed more than 235,000 acres each year. Before these workshops, participants indicated they had a moderate understanding of the definition of silvopasture (3.2/5.0 scale) recognized they had not been practicing silvopasture (2.1/5.0 scale). After the silvopasture workshops, awareness of the definition increased (4.5/5), participants understood the principles (4.4/5.0), could articulate the activities necessary to begin a silvopasture system (4.0/5.0) and felt that silvopasture had good potential in the Northeast (3.5/5.0). The primary barriers to implementation of silvopasture practices were knowledge of the more complex integration of forest, forage, and livestock; the added time and labor requirement to implement the system, access to technical assistance, and the cost for implementation. The silvopasture social media site http://silvopasture.ning.com was developed to connect those interested in silvopasture. There are over 100 members from 17 states in the US plus Australia and the Philippines. **The CCE educator in-service training for forestry and maple involved 28 campus and county participants. Three areas of emphasis were pond management, restoring NY woodlands, and forest regeneration enhancement strategies. How have the results been disseminated to communities of interest? RREA at Cornell involves 4 campus-based specialists who have developed and maintain meaningful connections to approximately a dozen county-based extension educators located throughout NY. This network engages in professional development in-services, workshops, conferences, applied research, demonstration sites, online courses, webinars, peer-peer volunteer training, written publications, and social media. These various venues allow specialists and county educators to deliver the appropriate content through the appropriate channel to the target audience. State and county educators are part of a variety of advisory groups, professional societies, and monitor internet social media. We strive to identify new avenues to communicate, especially to underrepresented audiences. Through these various networks, we work to ensure that we are providing educational resources to communities of interest. What do you plan to do during the next reporting period to accomplish the goals? We will continue with the current suite of educational programming venues and interactions with stakeholders. We anticipate expanding the availability of online courses for stakeholders.

PROGRESS: 2011/10/01 TO 2012/09/30
OUTPUTS: **Support is being provided to the NY Forest Owners Association for their RESTORE NEW YORK WOODLANDS (RNYW) initiative. Materials include written articles, webinars, fact sheets, white papers, and brochures. We have committed to developing posters, and providing training for host site facilitators. We are working with NYFOA members to prepare guides that host sites can use during woodswalks. Key topics for RNYW include deer over abundance, interfering vegetation, and high-grading. **We offered two biodiversity workshops for woodland owners. These workshops addressed topics of information and tools, plus care and planning. There were 37 participants. We marketed the program through a direct mailing to landowners of 40 acres or more in the towns contained within the target regions. **18 presentations, including 5 workshops addressed small-scale woodlot and sugarbush management and safety, included more than 450 maple syrup producers, woodlot owners, and foresters. Topics included tree growth and quality affect productivity, the influence of sunlight and competition on growth, characteristics of acceptable and unacceptable trees, and safe practices for felling and moving logs. A social network was developed (http://CornellForestConnect.ning.com). **Two day-long silvopasture workshops were offered for woodlot owners, foresters, graziers, and agency staff. There were 87 participants from NY, MA, VT, and NH. The silvopasture social media site http://silvopasture.ning.com was developed to connect those interested in silvopasture. There are 66 members from 10 states plus 4 countries. **The 2012 Cornell Maple Camp involved 23 producers attended the training. The CMC provides a four-day training for maple syrup producers with no to moderate amounts of experience. The training covered all aspects of production from sugarbush management to tubing system layout and design, tree tapping, sap collecting and processing, reverse osmosis, filtering, packaging, value-added products, and marketing. **The Master Forest Owner volunteer program conducted 1 new volunteer statewide training and certified an additional 20 new volunteers for a total of 170 active volunteers. Three regional refresher workshops statewide that were attended by a total of 82 MFO volunteers, MFO candidates, and local NY Forest Owner members. **Twenty-five people attended the statewide Master Naturalist Program, and 20 people attended the summer Naturalist Workshop. In 2012 we enhanced and strengthened the program web site and on-line reporting. **The ForestConnect webinar series offered 8 monthly webinars that averaged more 110 participants, representing 16 states, and owning or managing slightly more than 1,000,000 acres. Webinars involved 1254 seat-hours for live sessions and more than 2100 views of recorded archives. Total acres under management by participants, noting there is duplication, was over 16 million. **The CCE educator in-service training for forestry and maple involved 22 campus and county participants. Two areas of emphasis were tree planting and invasive species management. PARTICIPANTS: INDIVIDUALS - Personnel in the Department of Natural Resources provide the majority of work and outputs for the RREA project. These people include P. Smallidge, project leader and RREA-PI, G. Goff, forest wildlife biologist, and K. Sullivan, forest wildlife biologist. S. Childs is the maple specialist and is largely supported by other funds, but works on RREA based initiative related to food production and maple syrup products. PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS - Our primary partner is the Cornell Cooperative Extension system, and a cadre of approximately 15 educators who have significant natural resource programming responsibility. The NY Forest Owners Association is a key partner and has initiated the Restore NY Woodlands project. We work cooperatively with them and the NYS DEC forestry staff on woodswalks and educational seminars. Other groups that share an overlap in mission and with which we interact include the Empire State Forest Products Association, the Council of Forest Resource Organizations, and assorted conservation groups throughout the state. PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT-We contribute to professional development through workshops, conferences and webinars. The annual CCE forestry and maple in-service (FRESH) brings together campus and county educators for three days of casual but intense sharing and learning. We support workshops and conferences for the Society of American Foresters and The Wildlife Society. Almost one-third of webinar participants request documentation they can use for continuing education with various credentialing bodies. TARGET AUDIENCES: TARGET AUDIENCES The primary audience is the private family forest owner and Cornell Cooperative Extension educators. Other key audiences include maple syrup producers, livestock graziers, nature conservation organization staff and members, foresters, loggers, and agency staff. All marketing efforts are designed and intended to be broadly distributed. All events and interactions are intended to be accommodating to all people of any background. EFFORTS - Efforts include the development of written fact sheets, articles for publications, webinars, demonstration sites, applied research, email correspondence, written content on blogs and social media sites, bulletins, presentations at lay and professional seminars and conferences, woodswalks, support for partner organizations, and training of students for support of extension projects. PROJECT MODIFICATIONS: Nothing significant to report during this reporting period.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
View this project
Project number
NYC-147570
Accession number
228290
Categories
Education and Training
Bacterial Pathogens
Food Defense and Integrity
Commodities
Meat, Poultry, Game