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Targeting educational needs based on natural resource professionals’ familiarity, learning, and perceptions of silvopasture in the southeastern U.S.

Stutzman, Emily, Barlow, Rebecca Jo, Morse, Wayde, Monks, Dale, Teeter, Larry
Agroforestry systems 2019 v.93 no.1 pp. 345-353
extension education, forest management, foresters, land management, landowners, learning, professionals, silvopastoral systems, surveys, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi
Natural Resource Professionals (NRPs) are commonly regarded as the front lines of agriculture and forest management innovations, including silvopasture, an agroforestry practice. Yet, as silvopasture is a departure from more traditional land management practices, many NRPs may not have the expertise or training to help landowners make informed decisions. Targeted training of professionals may prove beneficial. Through a web survey of NRPs with cooperative extension, Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS), state forestry services, and private foresters in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, and Florida, we found that 64% of respondents are “somewhat” or “very familiar” with silvopasture and 54% have participated in a silvopasture field day. Rates of silvopasture training were highest for NRPs in the NRCS (78%) lowest for registered foresters (29%) (p < .001 Chi square = 55.367) and highest in Alabama (67%) and Mississippi (63%), and lowest in Georgia (41%) (p < .01). Perceptions of the physiographic suitability for silvopasture were lowest in Mississippi (p = .02; test statistic 14.632; DF = 3). The state forestry service NRPs and NRPs in Mississippi and Georgia present strong opportunities for education regarding silvopasture.