As an Extension Educator in Gibson County, which lies in Southwestern Indiana, I take seriously the mission to extend Land-Grant University research to the public. Over the course of Extension’s history, the system has become excellent at promoting and extending traditional programming, whether agricultural economics to farmers or canning demonstrations to eager homemakers.
Today, there are new and untraditional topics that affect the local populace of our cities, towns, and rural areas. One such topic is climate change. The topic can be framed in many different ways: as affecting human health through allergen counts or extended heat waves, influencing policy around emission standards and other governmentally-controlled variables, or affecting the types and kinds of plants that will grow in a region at a given time.
There are many regional initiatives that attempt to address a certain aspect of climate change and agriculture. The Corn Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project (sustainablecorn.org) has spent five years of intensive research looking at climate change and agricultural adaptation.
The Useful to Usable initiative (agclimate4u.org) has developed web-based tools that analyze the climate of an area and describe impacts that climate may have on particular on-farm decisions, such as nitrogen application or corn hybrid maturity selection.
The National Climate Assessment (nca2014.globalchange.gov), Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and other reports address certain agricultural impacts in regards to climate change. These reports are commonly cited in research but rarely make a headline in pop culture.
The issue at hand is to make the linkages between climate change and agriculture real to the individual farmer, input supplier, processor, or consumer. Through participation in the i-Three Corps, I hope to find ways to recognize impact through the extension of regional and national University research to a local populace. Wherein a tool on a website, participation in a webinar, or specific agronomic recommendation may cause an agriculturalist to become more profitable or the land he or she influences to be more sustainably managed, the mission of the Extension system has been fulfilled and an important success in educational method noted.