Consulting, Education Still Top Priorities for Ag Division
It has been slightly more than three years since the Ag Division re-organized and began operating with a new mission statement and goals. The following overview of the primary programs reveals some of our significant accomplishments.
Consulting with area land managers remains our primary focus, and the consulting specialists continue to allocate more than 50 percent of their time to activities related to providing management information to cooperators. During the first nine months of 2003, we provided 560 written recommendations and 157 complete written management plans to cooperators. During the same period, our specialists answered more than 1200 questions from non-cooperators who either called or came to the office.
Education, through seminars, schools, tours, etc., is also a primary goal. By the end of September 2003, the Ag Division had hosted 40 educational events reaching 1350 adults and another seven events reaching 350 students.
Research and demonstration projects give staff opportunities to obtain new information and to demonstrate management techniques, new equipment or processes. We presently are conducting 52 projects ranging from demonstrating the use of nest boxes for song birds to research projects involving several hundred stocker cattle that continue on through the feedlot. Small grains breeding and variety testing of small grains, ryegrass and other forages is included in the research program. Several of these projects are conducted in collaboration with other Noble Research Institute staff or university staff. As these projects are completed, you may see the results in this newsletter or hear the results at one of our educational events. We currently operate five research and demonstration farms totaling about 15,500 acres. You are encouraged to visit with any of our staff about these projects, but Dr. Bryan Unruh, research and demonstration manager, can direct you to the proper person.
Special projects include various programs for youths, such as a carcass contest for cattle in area livestock shows and a summer camp. A cattle retained ownership program allows cattle producers to send calves from their cowherd to the feedlot and receive performance and carcass information. This program involved about 500 head during 2003.
Distribution of information through our Web site and publications is also a significant objective. During the period of April through June 2003, our Web site had more than 56,000 user sessions, and many of those were to view publications. In addition, we distributed almost 16,000 printed publications from January through September. Lists of available publications can be obtained on our Web site or by contacting the Helpline at (580) 224-6500.
As we plan for 2004, we welcome your input. Although the Ag Division's strategic focus will continue in the direction started three years ago, we strive to improve and enhance our services for the benefit of our regional producers and our collaborators. Therefore, we are open to suggestions for educational event topics, new research or demonstration projects or any of our programs.