Carbon, Energy, Climate
In September 2012, NCR-SARE’s Professional Development Program began a two-year professional development and training initiative around topics of bioenergy, climate, and connecting issues such as soil carbon.
To launch this initiative, the conference organizers invited state teams of educators to attend a kickoff training conference held at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station operated by Michigan State University in southwestern Michigan. Attendees were from the 12 North Central region states plus a few representatives of the other SARE regions.
Attendees not only heard from leading scientists in the region but also participated in hands-on workshops to learn about practical approaches for soil carbon testing, cover crop planting, bioenergy production, weatherdata interpretation, communicating about climate information, and other skills. The 2½ day program began with three keynote sessions featuring Dr. Harry Baumes from the USDA Office of Energy Policy and New Uses, Dr. Jerry Hatfield from the National Lab for Agriculture and the Environment, and Dr. Mark Seeley, State Climatologist and Professor at the University of Minnesota, as they provided the broad context on carbon, bioenergy, climate, and intersecting issues. A farmer panel provided an initial response to the keynotes. The panel discussion was followed by afternoon field tours of current research related to carbon, bioenergy, and climate being conducted at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station.
This kickoff training initially reached about 120 agriculture educators from across the North Central region, but they will in turn provide training for farmers and other end users via workshops, tours, and other educational efforts on carbon, energy, and climate issues facing farmers in the region. These educators will also provide practical help such as relevant farming system practices and selection of appropriate federal and state farmer assistance programs related to bioenergy, energy conservation, carbon capture, and organic matter improvement.
An extension staff member from Cornell University stated, “It was one of the best organized and thoughtfully executed conferences I have ever attended.”
According to Dr. Rob Myers, NCR-SARE’s PDP Coordinator and Regional Director for Extension Programs, this professional development conference was well received not only because participants heard from leading scientists on climate and energy but also because they were able to gain hands-on experience in workshops that covered practical approaches for soil carbon testing, cover crop planting, bioenergy processing, weather/ climate data interpretation and communication, and other skills that can be conveyed in follow-up extension programs.
“Ultimately, we expect over 1000 people to participate in follow-up training events in their states,” said Myers. “As farmers deal with challenging weather conditions, such as the 2012 drought, and try to respond to the demand for more bioenergy, they face the need to continually improve management approaches. We think this regional training initiative will help extension workers and other farm advisors be prepared to assist farmers in a way that contributes to the sustainability of their farming operations in the future.”
For more information about NCR-SARE’s Carbon, Climate, and Energy initiative and related followup events, access the Carbon, Energy, and Climate Conference training materials, or contact Rob Myers.
In September 2012, NCR-SARE’s Professional Development Program invited state teams of educators to attend a training around topics of bioenergy, climate, and connecting issues such as soil carbon at the W.K. Kellogg Biological Station in southwestern Michigan. Attendees were from the 12 North Central region states plus a few representatives of the other SARE regions. These are the materials from that September 2012 training.
The USDA-NIFA has many resources available through the Climate and Corn-Based Cropping Systems Coordinated Agriculture Project (CAP) at Iowa State University.