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Ten Upper Midwest States Extension Staff Teaming Up for Water Quality for Small- and Medium-Sized Livestock Farms


Goals and objectives of this project are to: <OL> <LI>Create multidisciplinary discussion topic teams of Extension faculty and educators to address: sustainable nutrient management and in field conservation practices, and farmstead storm water, polluted runoff and wash water management and treatment systems. <LI>Increase the Extension professional scholarly knowledge of manure management by building long term partnerships, connecting them through educational events, professional development opportunities, list serves, Internet video conferencing, and discussion formats. <LI>Share and expand successful Extension outreach programs across the 10 states in region 5 and 7, as well as other states where the knowledge is applicable. <LI>Protect surface waters by bringing the current knowledge on manure management to small- and medium-sized livestock producers through Extension education, providing a systems approach to incorporating appropriate components into individual operations.</OL> Outputs include: <OL> <LI>professional development for Extension personnel to make them knowledgeable and trusted resources in manure management, and give them a greater ability to interact with farmers, policymakers and regulatory agencies at the local and state level. At a minimum, three people from each state (30 total) will be directly involved in active discussion teams that gather and package educational for sharing to a larger audience. It is planned for 150 Extension people to attend annual trainings or be reached directly by Internet web casts.<LI>A greater and more timely knowledge transfer among practitioners, ultimately achieving the transfer of more pertinent data to livestock producers; <LI> a greater understanding of the implications and unintended consequences of the many and varied manure management issues, not only of the issues of today, but the challenges expected in the future; <LI> educators providing more creative and targeted Extension programs that address water quality; <LI> greater electronic communications of data and resources via Web sites, white papers, fact sheets and electronic newsletters between the participants and ultimately to their clientele, will include at least four new topic areas will be added to the eXtension community of practice on manure management ; <LI> greater multidisciplinary, cross-state and cross-regional programs for both Extension and livestock producer audiences.</ol> These may lead to additional demonstration projects, grant proposals or other activities that will benefit a larger audience. Activities will include a pre and post survey of participants to help assess the above stated expected results. The initial primary event will concur along with the Manure Expo, to be held in Iowa in July 2009. As travel budgets allow, there will be one to two other inclusive training events.

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Non-Technical Summary: The overarching goal of this project is to improve the implementation of practices on livestock farms related to manure management that will protect surface water resources. This will begin by developing a network of Extension professionals in EPA Regions 5 and 7 (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin) that will share and coordinate knowledge and experience to improve the transfer of information to livestock farmers and policy makers. Activities will focus on manure management as it relates to nutrient planning, conservation practices and storm water management practices that protect water quality, and support the long term sustainability of small- and medium-sized livestock and poultry operations. This project is unique because it goes beyond the classic Extension in-service model to building a network of Extension educators and researchers who share a common interest, and provides opportunities to establish long-term relationships and professional partnerships. Most larger livestock operations have private consultants to help them comply with national pollution discharge elimination (NPDES) permits. Small- and medium-sized farms have limited resources and, therefore, need help to protect surface waters, and many turn to Extension for that help. Because manure management issues necessitate a multidisciplinary approach, this project will allow Extension county, regional and state staff members to share both technical information and Extension programming ideas across state lines and across technical disciplines to better serve their clientele. Compilation of technical resources will be applicable to the livestock farming audience as well as many other state's Extension staff. <P> Approach: Extension county, multi-county, regional and state faculty are the target audience of this project. The project will begin with a survey of existing Extension and research staff and priority topics to develop a baseline of staff resources and identify priorities and knowledge gaps. The survey will also serve as a pre and post evaluation metric to answer the questions: 1. Do Extension staff feel more confident in addressing the entire manure management system on a farm 2. Are they more skilled in providing an array of options to producers for environmental protection on farmsteads and in the fields 3. Do Extension staff members work across disciplines more 4. Are Extension educators generating more outreach materials 5. Are they better able to find and access materials and program ideas 6. Do they have more opportunities to interact with policymakers and regulators 7. Do they feel more comfortable with community and societal implications of the livestock industry 8. Do they feel better equipped to help producers predict the future trends that impact their livestock operations Other evaluation data will include items from the outputs section of this report.

Rector, Natalie
Michigan State University
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