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Training to Become Certified Prairie Strips Consultants
Iowa Ag Connection - 01/11/2018

Iowa State University held five workshops in 2017 to train farm advisers to become prairie strips consultants. Ninety-one people from five Midwest states attended the workshops. The occupation of attendees ranged from technical service providers and other advisers who work directly with farmers and landowners to extension educators, engineers and graduate students.

field with prairie stripThe workshops were the first of a three-part program to achieve certification in prairie strip design, establishment and monitoring. The day-long trainings covered siting of prairie strips, prairie plant identification, seed mixtures, maintenance, determining costs and more.

"These training events provided advisers with practical knowledge and informational materials to help them educate farmers and landowners about prairie strip implementation and management," said Rachael Whitehair, research assistant in the Department of Agriculture Education and Studies at Iowa State. "While it is too early to see any changes in prairie strip implementation, more trained advisers will improve the frequency that prairie strips are discussed between landowners and advisers."

Those who completed the first part of the training program have moved onto the second phase -- creating a communications piece that focuses on prairie strips and uses the information gained at the workshop. The final step of the program is to work with the Iowa State University prairie strips team to help farmers or landowners implement prairie strips on their land. Those who complete this part of the program are eligible for a $1,000 bonus.

"This part of the program provides an opportunity for participants to apply the knowledge gained in the workshop that benefits their business," said Whitehair. "Increased adoption of prairie strips across Midwestern landscapes is the desired change we hope this program helps bring about."

The McKnight Foundation and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation through the Iowa Agriculture Water Alliance provided funding to make these workshops possible.

More information about prairie strips and the prairie strips consultant training program can be found online. Contact Rachael Whitehair at rachaelw@iastate.edu or Nancy Grudens-Schuck at ngs@iastate.edu with any additional questions.

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