2.4 Building Extension Capacity around Climate: The North Central Climate Collaborative

Monday, 7 January 2019: 2:45 PM
North 224A (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Hans Schmitz, Purdue Extension, Mount Vernon, IN; and L. M. Edwards, T. Williams, P. Tomlinson, A. S. Mase, K. A. Gehl, and R. L. Power

Climate variability continues to be a defining factor in agriculture and water quality in the North Central Region of the United States. Various extreme weather events and their increasing frequency impact crop production and prevent water bodies from fulfilling their designated uses. Farm management practices and their interaction with typical climates of a region also can influence water quantity, water quality, and sustainable water management. Meanwhile, farmers and Extension professionals desire education in climate science and climate change to inform shifts in management practices, which can help farmers more easily meet goals in nutrient loss reduction strategies, efficiently utilize agricultural inputs, and maintain economic profitability.

The North Central Region is defined as a 12-state area including Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio. Dominant agricultural commodities in the region include corn, soybean, wheat, and alfalfa and other forages. The North Central Region Water Network is a 12-state collaboration designed to enhance connectivity across regional and state water projects, develop and carry out integrated outreach and education efforts, and coordinate projects with measurable short and long-term environmental and social impacts.

Under the funding and direction of the North Central Region Water Network, a team of extension professionals and representatives of partner agencies with experience at the connection between agriculture and climate has been identified. This North Central Climate Collaborative (NC3) utilizes their expertise to create and manage education around agriculture, water, and climate in the region. To better develop and promote climate education resources as they are developed, the team meets on a regular basis. Also, with Extension systems in each state having varying capacity for resource promotion, the NC3 team increases efficiencies by producing materials that will serve multiple states.

Outputs of our activities include further dissemination of results from the USDA-funded Corn Systems CAP and Useful to Usable (U2U) initiatives including fact sheets, webinars, and YouTube videos. Desired outcomes include a more informed Extension community comfortable providing programming at the intersection of agriculture, water, and climate. Longer term, the educated clientele from these programs will be better equipped to recommend and institute farm management practices that conserve resources and enhance productivity in a variable climate.

Our presentation will cover the opportunities and challenges of beginning a regionally-based climate education community. From hosting webinars to regional conferences, the mixed approaches to education professional development will be analyzed. Impact assessment and communication of impact are essential components to building rapport within the Extension system and with external clientele. Challenges and recommendations for creating a trusted climate communication network will be both shared and solicited.

Supplementary URL: https://northcentralclimate.org/

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