Congrats to Mark Thorne on a Partnership Award for Multistate Efforts!
His National Connections Teams for Forest & Rangeland Resources team was recognized by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture for developing the web-based conference series, “Strengthening RREA programing Through Enhanced Connections.”
At the onset of Covid, their goal was to increase capacity of Extension educators to serve their stakeholders and strengthen the Renewable Resources Extension Act program. The team employed novel online, interactive content to provide unique opportunities for Extension educators to share strategies, tools, and outreach methodologies across institutions, as well as proactively engage a broad diversity of Extension, public agency, and conservation professionals.
The project aimed to build capacity among Extension and outreach professionals to provide scientific and technologically relevant programs to forest and range stakeholders. Specifically, to 1) establish a project team composted of range and forestry experts from geographically distinct land-grant institutions; 2) create nine webinars addressing RREA critical issues; and 3) develop online forums enabling participants to share ideas and methodologies and develop collaborations around the RREA critical issues.
The interdisciplinary, multi-state team included Barbara Hutchinson of U. Arizona, Kris Tiles of U. Wisconsin, Retta Bruegger of Colorado State U., Adam Downing of Virginia Tech U., Elise Gornish of U. Arizona, Sheila Merrigan of U. Arizona, Martha Monroe of U. Florida, Leslie Roche of U. California-Davis, and Dave Bogner of U. Arizona.
Mark, of CTAHR’s Dept. Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences, notes the webinars had widespread participation and international appeal, with a total of 1,069 registrations from across the U.S. and around the globe (Australia, Spain, Guatemala, Brazil, Columbia, Slovakia, Canada, and Jordan). They were influential, with 96% of post-webinar survey respondents indicating what they learned would “somewhat” to “very likely” enhance their Extension programming. The project also spurred new collaborations, including applications to RREA-NFF 2022 program and a USDA-WSARE Professional Development proposal.
“This project was one of the more rewarding I have worked on over my career as it expanded my collegial network and has led to several collaborative opportunities that would not have materialized otherwise,” says Mark.
Watch the Strengthening RREA Programing Through Enhanced Connections: A Web-based Conference Series webinars.