AMES, Iowa --- Michelle Young, Sustainable Farms director at Australian National University, is spending two weeks in Iowa this summer to exchange ideas with the Iowa Learning Farms team at Iowa State University. Young is leading the development of the first extension program for sustainable farming at ANU and has crossed the globe seeking best practices and programs to aid in maximizing the growth of the program.
“I am tasked with building an extension program that will be a practical resource for up to 15,000 farmers in the box gum grassy woodlands of eastern Australia,” said Young. “In researching programs that we could adapt to our needs, I found the content and approaches at Iowa Learning Farms to be very intriguing. I’m looking forward to seeing programs and materials in action during my visit.”
Sustainable Farms is a cross-disciplinary research project aiming to create an engaging farm-based outreach program to increase adoption of sustainable farming practices on the South West Slopes of Eastern Australia. Similar to the origins of ILF, the program grew out of needs identified through field research and engagement on the farm.
Iowa Learning Farms stresses farmer-to-farmer outreach and learning as a fundamental pillar of the extension effort. Young has similar goals for her program, and has already begun integrating some ILF materials and strategies.
Young’s itinerary includes visits to Iowa State University research farms, opportunities to interact with ILF farmer partners, and tours of wildlife and conservation centers around the state. She will also participate in public events with the ILF Conservation Stations at a county fair and a farmers market. In addition, Young will deliver a lecture about Sustainable Farms as a part of information and idea sharing between the programs.