Brookings, S.D. -- The Conservation Reserve Program Readiness Initiative is returning to South Dakota with a pair of workshops on CRP topics. The first workshop on wildlife habitat development will be June 17 with a registration deadline of May 17. The second course on CRP mid-contract management will be June 18 with a registration deadline of May 17. Participants can choose to attend one or both courses and lunch will be provided both days. Online courses on CRP core training, wind erosion modeling, soil erosion modeling and web-based planning tools are available now.
Sponsored by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, the South Dakota workshops are part of the CRP Readiness Initiative, a nationwide effort to train conservation professionals and independent consultants to provide the planning, implementation and management services associated with the Conservation Reserve Program. While especially relevant to the more than 400 professionals who have already participated in the program, the South Dakota workshops also may be useful to conservation professionals working on other NRCS and conservation planning projects. Professionals from nonprofits, conservation districts and state agencies with ties to NRCS are encouraged to participate.
“Participants taking these courses will dig deeper, learning about advanced planning concepts and conservation tools and practices, like developing wildlife habitat and managing contracts,” said Kevin Erb, CRP Readiness Initiative co-director and Certified Crop Advisor. “After completing the training, they will be able to help landowners plan for and implement sound conservation practices that will enhance water quality and wildlife habitat, while keeping nutrients in soil where they can boost yields.”
Developing Wildlife Habitat on June 17 covers landscape and habitat concepts. Participants will learn to "read the landscape" by identifying landscape features within the context of Wildlife Habitat Guides and Ecological Site Descriptions. Participants will learn how to apply a "state-and-transition" process to identify existing site features and choose the conservation practices that will transition the site to the desired habitat. Landowner input will be used to guide students toward completing a CRP Wildlife Habitat Plan within the context of a "virtual field day" to prepare the student for a corresponding field course.
Mid-Contract Management: Creating and Maintaining Exceptional Habitat on June 18 provides participants with a background in mid-contract management purpose, benefits and limitations within the CRP conservation planning process. Participants will learn strategies in working with landowners to develop a mid-contract management plan and will conduct a site visit to evaluate the effectiveness of mid-contract management practices on the land. An online portion of both courses must be completed in advance of the in-person workshops. Instructions on completing the online portion will be provided three weeks prior to the class.
Online courses currently available
The Wind Erosion Prediction System course covers the WEPS computer model, wind erosion process and its effects on agricultural production and the environment. This basic course takes participants from software installation to basic use of WEPS to compare a variety of conservation practices to reduce wind erosion.
The Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation -- RUSLE2 -- course teaches participants to use the model to understand and compare practices to reduce soil erosion caused by rainfall and runoff.
The Conservation Planning Web Tools course provides a hands-on exploration of the Web Soil Survey and electronic Field Office Technical Guide -- eFOTG -- two tools used by conservation professionals in a variety of conservation programs.
The CRPRI Online Core Training guides participants through the process of creating a viable CRP conservation plan. The course covers the various sub-programs of the CRP (General, Continuous and CREP), resources available to planners and strategies for stakeholder interactions when developing a conservation plan. The NRCS 9-Step Planning process under the Conservation Reserve Program is covered in detail. The course concludes with next steps for becoming a certified Technical Service Provider.
Online Core Training is free of charge to all participants. Supplemental courses are available free of charge to those who complete the online Core Training and for a fee to all others.
For more information on the CRP Readiness Initiative, visit facesofcrp.info. To register for the South Dakota or online workshops, visit conservation-training.wisc.edu and click on the Conservation Planning link.
Contact: Tim Gieseke, CRP Readiness Initiative Midwest Media Contact, at 507-359-1889 or firstname.lastname@example.org.