(LONG) NCSATP Exec. Summary 1996

North Central Sustainable Agriculture Training Program

Shared Leadership, Shared Responsibility
Executive Summary, 1996

I was pleased with the many activities in state training programs and the
variety of people coming together to determine directions.
Wisconsin Farmer

The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Program began with
the 1985 Farm Bill, and Congress appropriated funds in 1988.  Research and
Education grants fund interdisciplinary projects that usually involve
scientists, producers, and other private and public organizations.  In 1992,
the North Central Region was the first to initiate a small grants program
for farmers and ranchers to run on-site research experiments.  To spread the
knowledge about sustainable concepts and practices gained from SARE
projects, Congress began appropriating funds for professional development
for Extension personnel and other agricultural specialists in 1994.

The North Central Region SARE Administrative Council awarded a region-wide*
development project under the joint leadership of Dr. Charles Francis,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Dr. Clive Edwards, The Ohio State
University.  The goals of the North Central Sustainable Agriculture Training
Project (NCSATP) are (1) to develop and implement a comprehensive education
program for use throughout the region and (2) to prepare a cadre of teachers
to conduct innovative training in their own states.

In 1996, the second year of the grant, NCSATP sponsored two training
workshops and one planning and review meeting.  The total number of
participants at the workshops and meeting was 182: Extension (64%),
producers (13%), nonprofit organizations (12%), and federal and state
agencies (11%).  Besides training events, NCSATP personnel administered
minigrants, wrote and distributed educational materials, gave presentations,
and networked with individuals interested in sustainable agriculture education.

*Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska,
North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin

Training Workshops

At the 1995 Planning and Review Meeting, participants identified coalition
building, facilitation skills, and political and environmental issues as key
elements needed in future workshops.  Based on these comments, the theme for
the 1996 workshops was Shared Leadership, Shared Responsibility.  With the
reduction in budgets and positions in both Extension and the Natural
Resources Conservation Service, it is becoming increasingly important to
find ways to share the responsibility of designing education initiatives in
sustainable agriculture.

Workshop organizers chose the Full Range Leadership Model (Bass and Avolio,
1990) because it supports leaders who generally have little or no
traditional management authority.  They often head small groups, task
forces, or teams.  With no control over a participant's pay or promotion,
the leader's influence must come from the person, not the organization.

The Full Range Leadership Model combines transactional leadership—where
rewards or disciplines depend upon the adequacy of performance—with
transformational leadership—which involves personal, inspirational
approaches.  The model describes seven leadership styles, from the highly
inactive and ineffective to the highly active and effective.

The concept and practice of the Full Range Leadership Model appeared to have
strong relevance to a shared leadership approach in sustainable agriculture
education, where it is essential that several organizations work closely
together to achieve common goals.

The 1996 workshops were designed around the guiding principles for NCSATP:
(1) sustainable agriculture must be viewed in a complex framework of social,
economic, and environmental factors, and (2) training must be inclusive,
both in terms of trainers and audience.  Presenters were farmers, Extension
educators and specialists, nonprofit representatives, and Natural Resources
Conservation Service personnel.

Please continue to use farmers as presenters.  Pairing farmers with
Extension or research staff is successful not only to convey information,
but to convey cooperation.
Kansas Nonprofit Representative

George Williams College/Lake Geneva Campus in Williams Bay, Wisconsin, was
chosen for the eastern half of the region.  The workshop was held June
24-26, and 72 people attended.  The Carrington Research Extension Center,
Carrington, North Dakota, was the site for the western workshop.  It took
place from July 24-26, and 65 people attended (Appendix A).

One day of the training workshops was spent examining the Full Range
Leadership Model.  Participants learned how to identify traits of successful
leaders, how to recognize personal strengths, and how these principles can
be used in the individual's organizational environment.  Small group
sessions identified major challenges facing groups working in sustainable
agriculture and how the model can help build on strengths and resources for
training people in the future.

Since an entire day was spent on leadership training, concurrent sessions
were run on two afternoons.  This year learning methods were presented by
regional educators who had successful and unique projects.  Most of the
topics had been recommended at the 1995 planning meeting:
 	Approaches to Whole Farm Planning
 	PLANETOR Version 2.0
 	Holistic Resource Management
 	Financial Analysis for Sustainable Agriculture
 	Implications of the 1996 Farm Bill on Sustainable Agriculture
 	Entrepreneurship and Marketing Products from Sustainable Agriculture
 	Tapping into Your State's Resources for Sustainable Agriculture Training
 	Using Study Circles in Sustainable Agriculture Training
 	Farmer Networks as Learning Methodology

The Walworth County Lakeland Agricultural Complex in Wisconsin and
Carrington Research Extension Center in North Dakota were chosen as case
studies because of their agricultural programs and high involvement with the
farming community.  Participants toured the stations and interacted with
local producers.

The Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial, located at the complex,
compares the production, profitability, and environmental impact of six
different cropping systems that range from high to low levels of purchased
inputs and crop diversity.  The complex was the site of heated debate in
1995 when county board supervisors introduced a resolution to sell the
farm's assets and rent the land.  However, a group of supporters joined
forces and saved the farm and its educational activities.

The Carrington Research Extension Center has been the focal point of North
Dakota's effort on application of sustainable agriculture in the field.
Research includes irrigated and dryland crop production, groundwater
quality, beef cattle integration with crop production, and indoor
recirculating aquaculture systems.  The center is also an integral part of
the community, which is an important region for grower-owned processing and
marketing businesses.  

I've come to respect farmer knowledge—that's a big change for me.
Administrative Council Member

Planning and Review Meeting

The Planning and Review Meeting for NCSATP was held in conjunction with the
fall session of the North Central Region SARE Administrative Council from
November 17 -18 at the Embassy Suites in Kansas City, Missouri.  Forty-five
people attended from all 12 states.  Agenda items included state reports on
PDP activities, future direction of the North Central Region SARE, and an
overview of NCSATP. 

One key discussion focused on the question, "How do we meld research,
producer, and PDP grants into a cohesive program and ensure the information
gets out?"  Rob Myers, director of the national SARE Program, told the group
about a database that contains information on all grants funded from 1988 to
the present.  Besides the technical approach, part of the audience called
for increased involvement of producers and sustainable agriculture
organizations.  Others expanded the concept, insisting that sustainable
agriculture was more than farming and research, and the focus should be
community members and society.

State sustainable agriculture coordinators reviewed NCSATP and made
recommendations for the next few years.  One of the most valuable benefits
has been the opportunity for state trainers, planners, and educators to
network and share ideas and materials from various programs.  The workshops
instilled a sense of community and "recharged batteries" for those
participants who feel isolated in their daily work environments.  Proposed
activities and training topics for NCSATP were:
 	Sponsor speakers and tours across states
 	Economics of sustainability
 	Regional curriculum
 	Chapter 1 research results
 	How sustainable agriculture helps build rural communities
 	Showcase producers who have made a successful transition
 	Social issues and quality of life
 	Leadership development for conflict resolution and consensus building
 	Structure of agriculture
 	Bringing new people into agriculture

Besides the interaction that was useful to participants, workshop attendees
had developed contacts and in a sense, an informal speakers' bureau for
their states' training functions.  Many had also duplicated chapters from
the resource notebooks and used the Participants' Lists to stay in contact.
The group wanted the workshops to continue to emphasize face-to-face
communication, but to use distance technologies where appropriate.
Activities may involve planning multistate events, broadcasting farmer
interviews, or designing video tours of site-specific demonstrations.

Other Grant Activities

For the second year, we announced a call for proposals under the NCSATP
grant for two minigrant activities: Special Topic Training Tours and
Speakers for In-State Sustainable Agriculture Training. The goals were to:
 	Stimulate the exchange of information and materials across states
 	Test alternative learning methods
 	Give educators on-farm experience with various systems
 	Provide in-depth training on sustainable agriculture issues
Extension and nonprofit organizations were encouraged to apply and to work
together.  The activity had to support the state strategic plan.  Michigan,
Nebraska, North Dakota, and Ohio received funds for twelve speakers and
three tours.  Principal investigators were required to submit a report that
included quantitative and qualitative evaluations and suggestions for other
educators (Appendix B).

The role of NCSATP as a clearing house for sustainable agriculture education
continues to grow. More than 540 copies of grant-derived educational
materials were distributed throughout the United States and to seven foreign
countries (Appendix C).  We also prepared newsletter articles, handouts, and
chapters on PDP issues (Appendix D).    

Networking is vital to building partnerships and furthering the goal of
shared leadership, shared responsibility.  We promoted the subject of
sustainable agriculture through a number of presentations, classes, and
talks to other groups (Appendix E).   In 1996 we contacted more individuals
for input on the workshops, and like last year, we interacted with a cross
section of people involved in agriculture (Appendix F).  Finally, a budget
summary for the project is given in Appendix G.

NCSATP has been a valuable and highly visible project in the North Central
Region.  It has  provided ongoing focus and useful resource materials to
trainers.  We can summarize the impact with one quote.

Teaching sustainable agriculture is critical.  We shouldn't give up.  When
you're sick and tired of your logo, people are just beginning to pick it up.
Illinois Extension Educator

Heidi Carter					E-Mail:  csas007@unlvm.unl.edu
Education Coordinator				Phone:   402-472-0917
Center for Sustainable Agricultural Systems
University of Nebraska-Lincoln