Concurrent Breakout Session 1 Descriptions

Concurrent Breakout Session 1

Track 1 - Program Delivery & Design

Water/Water Resources

Backyard Stream Repair: Engaging DIY Homeowners

Susan Boser, Danielle Rhea, Jennifer Fetter, Andy Yencha - Penn State Extension

Join us for an overview of Penn State Extension's new Backyard Stream Repair program for owners and managers of small streams. We will share the successes of working with this new and eager audience of DIY empowered citizens. We will explore the available resources on small scale streambank restoration including the physical tools and techniques we incorporated into our guidance manual and companion 5-part webinar series, and how we helped instigate riparian buffer plantings, live staking, and streambank stabilization across Pennsylvania without leaving our computers.

This webinar series helped to empower landowners to take action and gave them resources to be successful with a backyard stream repair project that would not only improve their individual landscape, but also contribute to improving the local watershed as a whole.

We will share evaluation data from individual learning sessions administered in the Backyard Stream Repair program as well as overall course evaluation data and implementation of conservation practices in the 6-8 months following course completion.

This presentation will provide an overview of the guidance manual and webinar series we created, and how these resources could be adapted to other states, conservation practices and audiences, including green industry professionals. This session would be helpful for anyone looking for ways to increase their reach and implementation of best management practices, particularly with smaller scale landowners who are not willing or ineligible  to participate in publicly funded programs.

Creative thinking for continued compliance-based trainings

Haley Parent, Jeremy Pike, Calvin Sawyer, PhD - Clemson University Cooperative Extension
While COVID-19 has affected the scope of how we interact with our various constituencies, the demand for certain programs remains unabated. For over 16 years, Clemson Extension, in partnership with the South Carolina Department of Health & Environmental Control (SCDHEC) and South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT), has provided two compliance-based training and certification programs to address stormwater plan review and inspection of permitted SC construction sites. The Certified Erosion Prevention and Sediment Control Inspector (CEPSCI) and Certified Stormwater Plan Reviewer (CSPR) programs educate and certify individuals in the areas of erosion prevention and sediment control. From proper design and review of stormwater plans to installation, maintenance, and inspection of construction site BMPs, both courses focus on meeting regulatory and compliance requirements. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the cancellation of all in-person CEPSCI and CSPR training courses that hundreds of personnel rely on each year for certification and recertification. Comprised of Extension specialists, associates, and agents partnering with state colleagues, the team set out to provide alternative solutions to in-person instruction. From May 2020 to December 2021, the team created, organized, and offered five distinct and separate courses (some multiple times) utilizing three online platforms and facilitating virtual instruction to 1,982 participants. Courses occurred synchronously and asynchronously online, using remote proctoring software for certification exams. In addition to reduced-capacity in-person offerings, the CEPSCI & CSPR teams will continue to offer online and remote course options as SC residents and the world experience extraordinary circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Healthy Pond Series: Facilitating connection and collaboration opportunities in stormwater pond management outreach for both participants and educators

Brooke Saari, C. Guinn Wallover - South Carolina Sea Grant Consortium

Stormwater ponds are the most frequently used practice to help manage flooding and pollution in South Carolina, with over 9,000 ponds in the coastal zone alone! Extension and education partners in South Carolina have offered a variety of outreach tools to help meet pond education needs. Feedback has shown that stormwater pond owners, the program target audience, desired more peer-to-peer networking opportunities. To facilitate this process, Clemson Extension, SC Department of Natural Resources, SC Sea Grant Consortium, and USC-North Inlet Winyah Bay NERR developed the Healthy Pond Series. The Healthy Pond Series, now hosted in the greater Charleston, Beaufort, and Myrtle Beach communities, is designed to be an educational networking opportunity to connect stormwater pond owners with others in their area. As part of the series, participants discuss best practices in pond maintenance and feedback on successes, or failures, in their management efforts. Each segment in the quarterly series, includes a lecture portion on a maintenance topic and interactive hands-on discussion time for owners. In the Charleston workshop alone, since its start in 2017, has reached more than 400 attendees, with many of these being repeat participants and attending multiples dates during the year. Program evaluations show the delivery format is highly successful in meeting pond owner’s needs. This program format provides Extension agencies a unique model for delivery of stormwater education that fosters peer-to-peer connection, as well as serving as an opportunity for cross-sector agency collaboration, leveraging resources to meet a shared goal of water resource protection.

Track 2 - Use of Technology

Zoom Use/Hybrid Learning

Multiple virtual platforms extend the reach of Water Wednesday

Yilin Zhuang, Krista Stump - University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Extension Central District

Water Wednesday is a collaborative multi-county extension program that addresses water quality protection and water conservation practices. This educational series offers weekly 45-minute live webinars hosted on Zoom and broadcasted to Facebook Live. The webinar recordings are shared on other social media platforms including YouTube, University of Florida blogs, and the Water Wednesday webpage for later viewing. Topics in this water series ranged from Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles to stormwater management and springs protection. This program is cross promoted by co-hosting the events on Facebook pages from multiple counties in the UF/IFAS Extension Central District. From May 2019 to November 2021, we conducted 46 webinars with 965 group participants from Zoom and Facebook Live. The webinar recordings reached 9,440 views on Facebook and 3,100 views on YouTube. The post program surveys (n=192) indicated that 80%  attended Water Wednesday on Zoom, 15% joined by Facebook livestream, and 3% watched the recordings on YouTube. The use of social media has distributed educational videos to a broader audience. However, the novelty of teaching through social media has come with challenges in evaluating practice adoption. With more empirical research on effective use of virtual teaching platforms, we will be able to track the impacts of Water Wednesday.

Geographically separated, virtually connected: co-teaching across the state utilizing Zoom

Ana Zangroniz & Laura Tiu, Dr. Laura Tiu, Sheila Dunning - UF/IFAS Extension & Florida Sea Grant

The Covid-19 pandemic brought many changes to Extension programming delivery, largely, the transition into virtual platforms.  Utilization of these technologies allowed for safe participation. The Florida Sea Grant agents in Okaloosa and Miami-Dade counties and Okaloosa County Commercial Horticulture agent collaborated and offered an entirely virtual module of the Florida Master Naturalist Program (FMNP), which historically had only been offered in person.  Objectives:  Offer an FMNP module delivered entirely via Zoom and make the experience as engaging as possible without the in-person component. Methods:  Three UF/IFAS Extension Agents planned and delivered the course. In addition to the required lectures and videos, they coordinated guest speakers, planned other in-class activities and developed guidelines for self-guided field trips and report-out sessions.  Results:  20 students participated in the June/July 2021 Freshwater Systems course. Pre and post test scores indicated a knowledge gain of 18%. 18/20 students completed the post-course evaluations, with 10 rating the course as “Excellent,” 5 “Very Good,” and 3 “Good.” Open-ended responses reflected the overall high level of satisfaction with the course. Follow-up surveys documented further impacts including volunteer time, information shared with others, working for an organization that promotes advocacy based on science, and more. Conclusions:  Virtual platforms allow expanded collaborations between agents, across disciplines and physical location. Carefully planned activities successfully build relationships across a virtual space and enhance the learning experience. Zoom provided a unique opportunity for three agents, geographically distanced by 630 miles to teach together.

The Conservation Stewards Program’s virtual journey: opportunities and lessons learned for a hybrid future

Georgia Peterson, Bindu Bhakta, Alexa Warwick - Michigan State University Extension

The Michigan Conservation Stewards Program (CSP) helps individuals gain knowledge and expertise that empower them to engage in stewardship activities in their local communities. Traditionally, CSP was 100% in-person instruction, combining weekly classroom presentations and hands-on field experiences. Partner organizations help provide these enriching experiences, and in turn, receive highly knowledgeable graduates as potential volunteers for their own work.

During the pandemic, CSP transitioned to a virtual format, presenting significant challenges to maintain engaging, experiential learning. Content was delivered to participants via the university online platform and weekly Zoom sessions, and a list of field activities was provided to complete on their own.  We encouraged safe interactions among participants and partners through online discussion forums, Zoom breakout sessions, and applied capstone projects.

137 individuals registered across four regional learning cohorts, with 58% earning a completion certificate. Both online material and Zoom presentations scored relatively high in the post-program survey. Responses indicated the program met their expectations, helping them to learn new concepts and connect to conservation partners. 

Unsurprisingly, lower ratings—from both participants and partners—were associated with limited availability of in-person local activities and stewardship. Others mentioned, however, there is value in retaining some online portions for future offerings. For the planning team, coordinating and executing the shift from in-person to virtual programming was an extremely time-intensive process. In the proposed session, we will discuss the 2021 CSP transition and how input from participants, partners, and Extension staff will inform delivery of future CSP offerings.

Track 3 - Innovative Approaches


Leveraging field-based research and demonstration to promote forest farming adoption in the pacific northwest

Patrick Shults - Washington State University Extension

Forest farming systems are common in parts of the eastern U.S. but have yet to become popular in the Pacific Northwest.  This is likely due to a greater emphasis placed on timber production and significant opportunity for wild-foraged non-timber forest products in the region.  Nonetheless, there is fertile ground for forest farming systems such as log-grown specialty mushrooms and maple syrup production in the lush coastal forests.  Forest and farm owners are beginning to explore these practices, either as a hobby or to generate supplemental income.  In the last three years, WSU Extension has led or engaged in field-based research examining both systems and, in doing so, created multiple opportunities for hands-on workshops and demonstration.  This talk will examine how WSU Extension develops and maintains these opportunities, including funding mechanisms, and the benefits of immersing both Extension agents and landowners in the process of “learning by doing”.

Restoring ecosystem health with targeted disturbance:  Oak savanna, Silvopasture and Adaptive grazing

Gary Wyatt - UMN Extension

Silvopasture, which combines the practice of adaptive grazing, forestry management and forage stewardship, can help achieve vegetation management goals and enhance wildlife habitat via targeted disturbance.  This presentation features information on adaptive grazing management applied to oak savanna restoration and provides an update on a three-year research and education project involving University of Minnesota Extension, Great River Greening and Sustainable Farming Association of MN.  This project is funded by a grant from the Legislative‚ÄźCitizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR).

A Network Analysis to Identify the Procurement Zones Around Milling Facilities in Michigan

Naresh Khanal - Michigan State University

The forest has a significant contribution in providing critical ecosystem services, clean drinking water, fresh oxygen, carbon sequestration, preventing soil erosions and direct economic benefits to people. Various researches have shown that the health and productivity of the forest is enhanced by a timely harvest of the forest products. For accomplishing the goal of sustainable management and optimum utilization of natural resources, forest managers, land owners and policy makers need to understand the market coverage and competitiveness of harvested wood products. By utilizing the available road network and data on milling facilities of Michigan, I ran network analysis in ArcGIS to generate the procurement zoning of mills. These zones represent the economically feasible regions around the mills to collect wood products. The findings deliver the best available options for economically feasible supply regions and market extent for biomass merchantability in Michigan. Additionally, I compared how the procurement zoning of mills has been changed in last four decades (1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s). The findings can be helpful for the policy-makers, business owners, and consumers in making evidence-based choices/decisions in managing Michigan’s forests optimally.

Track 4 - Partnerships & Collaborations

Community Development & Ecosystems(CDE)/Diversity, Equity & Inclusion(DEI)

Preserving Cultures and Open Spaces: CIVIC Addresses Land Use Planning in Historically Black Communities

Joy Hazell, Dreamal Worthen, Ph.D., Kimberly Davis, Martha Monroe - University of Florida IFAS Extension

Local citizens feel increasingly removed from land-use decisions in their communities. In addition, members of some groups are historically underserved by local government and may not feel invited to engage with local government. Community Voices, Informed Choices (CIVIC), a partnership between University of Florida and Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, recognizes the importance of having a diversity of perspectives in land-use decisions and aims to build community capacity to work toward inclusive decision making.

The program adapted the Kettering Foundation’s National Issues Forum process for deliberative discussions to engage local citizens around land-use issues in their communities. In 2021 and 2022 CIVIC created, piloted and evaluated a land use deliberative discussion guide in three historically black communities of Florida. The land-use guide reflects economic, environmental, and individual needs around land use in local communities. In our pilot of historically black communities, we learned that

  • partnerships with community organizations and leaders are key to successful forums
  • cultural and historical realities are unique and of vital importance to the discussions of land use and land use changes in these communities
  • organizations and agencies working in these communities must remain aware of how their work or research may burden community members with redundant questioning or extractive research that is not shared back

Forum participants left the events feeling empowered to make changes and results from the forums include the formation of new partnerships and connections to new grants and projects.

What’s In a Name? Thoughtful Nomenclature Makes a Difference Species

Angela Gupta, Megan Weber  - University of Minnesota Extension

The University of Minnesota (UMN) Extension’s Invasive Species Community of Practice (IS CoP) believes in the adoption and use of appropriate, acceptable names for invasive species reflective of our values for diversity and engagement. The IS CoP developed Guiding principles to inform selecting primary common names for new non-native species. Additional processes were developed to apply these new principles to Extension programs.

What’s in a name? A lot. In 2014, Minnesota legislators passed a bill that included a name change for state agencies from “Asian carp” to “invasive carp”, in response to concerns raised by the Asian-American community. Yet, many other, potentially invasive species with similar place-based names exist and are emerging in Minnesota without discussion like crazy worms, Manchu tubergourd, Siberian squill, etc.

To help inform a process for thoughtful development of appropriate common names, IS CoP  reached out to two invasive species research centers and Extension’s Foreign Born Affinity Group at UMN for feedback and review. Their feedback drastically changed our approach and increased our sensitivity to this issue.

This presentation will review key discussion points and the decisions, revisions and procedural practices that resulted. Our first test of this process resulted in naming and approving use of the common name red hailstone for Thladiantha dubia. Outcomes are that red hailstone is now used by EDDMapS, iNaturalist, MN Wildflowers and eventually USDA Plants Database. To date, the UMN IS CoP has helped change troublesome common names of 18 invasive species on state and national platforms.

Diving into diversity – broadening youth outreach through 4-H environmental education extension programming

Sarah Davis, Abbey Tyrna, Katherine Clements, Randy Penn - University of Florida/IFAS Extension Sarasota County 4-H

Through team collaboration extension colleagues designed and delivered innovative programs reaching new audiences. Programs included summer camp, partnership programs, STEM special interest club and school enrichment opportunities. This presentation will highlight the programs and audiences we worked with striving to make longer term impact in our community and reaching out to underserved audiences.  Exploring your Environment, a five day long experiential adventure for middle school youth that includes outdoor field investigations, service-learning and explorations of local natural areas and parks engaged seven additional youth through scholarships. Outdoor Investigator started as an online program during the pandemic and in 2021 was tweaked to go back outdoors for scientific inquiry with partners serving underserved communities and schools.  Each experience was theme-based and focused on ecosystem interactions in the backyard or in neighborhood waters. We continued a similar program partnering with Easter Seals academy working with high school youth with intellectual disabilities. The STEM special interest club is a partnership with the local housing authority youth and black middle school youth living in housing engaged in monthly lessons engaging them in the environment and scientific investigations. LIFE program – Learning in Florida’s Environments LIFE successfully educates students on the importance of local ecosystems, conservation, management challenges, and science-based careers working with title I schools. During the pandemic engaging videos were created while in-person visits were put on pause.  Take a brief look into the these program and approaches to learn how you could broaden your reach to underserved youth.

Track 5 - Community Assessment & Action

Climate Change

Planning & zoning for solar energy systems in Michigan

Tyler Augst - Michigan State University Extension

Nearly every jurisdiction in Michigan will be approached about a solar installation within the next five years. However, few communities are prepared with policy or regulation. This session will provide attendees with context and perspective on planning for and regulating solar energy systems in Michigan. The presentation will emphasize why local governments need to plan and zone for widespread deployment of solar energy systems and introduce the new resource: Planning & Zoning for Solar Energy Systems: A Guide for Michigan Local Governments ( Participants in this session will learn:

  • The context of solar energy development in Michigan;
  • How various scales and configurations of solar energy systems fit into landscape patterns ranging between rural, sub­urban, and urban;
  • How the resource Planning & Zoning for Solar Energy Systems: A Guide for Michigan Local Governments can help their community plan for and regulate solar energy systems.

Designing a co-creation process for climate change related curriculum

Melissa Kreye - Pennsylvania State University

Climate change is expected to impact people differently based on their location and socio-economic status. People will also differ in their ability to adapt to changes in the environment and the associated social and economic conditions brought about by climate change. For some people, climate change mitigation activities may even bring about more opportunities (e.g., collaborations, jobs). Adult education theory poses that motivation to engage in informal education is largely driven by the need to solve real life problems. However, much of the information delivered about climate change to the public is still disconnected from the concerns and needs of everyday people. Creating pathways that allow stakeholders to engage in the curriculum development process can help ensure that the curriculum addresses the values, needs and conditions of the community that is being served. This talk will present several examples of how the co-creation process was used to develop climate change related curriculum for diverse categories of stakeholders including non-industrial forest owners, women, Latinx communities and Native American communities.

Climate Smart Floridians program – community action on climate change

Holly Abeels - University of Florida IFAS Extension

University of Florida Sea Grant and Extension agents, specialists and researchers developed the Climate Smart Floridians program to complement existing educational programs such as the Sustainable Living and Leadership Series and CIVIC programs. This program is specifically aimed at educating participants on individual actions to reduce climate change impacts and covers how climate change will impact Florida. Climate Smart Floridians is a model for providing citizens research-based information about climate change and engaging them as ambassadors to help reduce household expenses and greenhouse gas emissions. It addresses how climate change relates to topics such as landscaping, water resources, transportation, home energy, food, and waste. This program has resulted in critical decision-making skills about the impacts of individual choices on climate change. Individuals are encouraged to increase use of alternative transportation, changes in daily habits around consumption and waste, and implement home energy efficiency improvements. The subject of global climate change can be overwhelming to the individual and this program is intended to answer the question “What can I do?” This presentation will describe how the program has been offered in Florida communities, results and evaluations from these programs, and how you can adapt the program for your state and community.