WASHINGTON, D.C. — A curriculum developed to help the growing number of small acreage landowners become good land stewards has been named winner of a national award by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service.
“Living on the Land,” the curriculum developed by an eight-state team, is being awarded the CSREES Partnership Award for Multi-state Efforts. The team is led by Susan Donaldson of University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and includes Doug Stienbarger, director of Washington State University Clark County Extension.
Stienbarger coauthored both lessons in the first module of the curriculum, reviewed the entire curriculum to recommend modifications, and helped train educators from around the west. He is currently involved in revising and updating the entire curriculum.
The educational program was developed to inform a growing number of landowners with parcels ranging from one to more than 40 acres, particularly those in urban fringe areas, about best management practices for being good stewards of wildlife, land and water resources. Many of these landowners come from an urban professional background and often have little experience with such practices as integrated pest management, erosion control, and forage and grazing management.
“We continue to see significant growth in the number of people owning small parcels across the country but particularly here in the West,” said Stienbarger. “Small landowners have a significant cumulative environmental impact with the increased numbers of wells, septic systems, agricultural activities and impervious surfaces. This course is designed to equip those landowners with the skills and information to ‘do the right thing’ as stewards of their land.”
In 2001, the team of 14 members from eight states, most of them affiliated with extension programs, began developing the curriculum by drawing on information from more than 100 existing publications and the knowledge and experience of the team. After an independent review, the team trained 47 extension, Conservation District and federal Natural Resources Conservation Service personnel to deliver the course throughout the West. By Oct. 1 an additional 68 professionals will have been trained to teach the curriculum.
To date, the curriculum has been distributed to 42 states and five foreign countries with respondents reporting that they have used it to educate nearly 4,500 students. The entire five-module curriculum has been available in Clark County for five years.
The curriculum has been used in at least six counties in Washington State, and Stienbarger has used it as the core program to obtain funding to start a small acreage program targeting small parcel landowners.
The award will be officially presented and the team honored on Monday, Oct. 21 at the annual CSREES Day of Appreciation in Washington DC.