Extension and Outreach
To build a robust and sustainable bio-economy in the arid southwest, a steady supply of feedstock and trained professionals will be necessary to support industry needs for guayule and guar. The Extension & Outreach Team works to help growers and other stakeholders obtain necessary knowledge for the successful production of guayule and guar crops. Research results obtained through the SBAR project are communicated to regional growers, providing up-to-date information and cutting-edge production practices for optimizing growth and yields. Engaging growers through workshops and field days is coupled with workforce development opportunities and internships to prepare the next generation of scientists, agronomists, engineers, transportation experts, and production specialists for building a sustainable bio-economy in the arid southwest.
Further, the Extension & Outreach Team also focuses efforts in unstructured learning environments via 4-H camps and youth activities to increase knowledge and awareness about biofuel, energy production, and bio-economy career opportunities. Youth development opportunities are offered in Arizona and New Mexico during the summer, and periodically during the year in remote regions and on Native Nations.
- Growers and Producers
- Workforce Development and Internships
- SBAR 4-H Summer Camps and Youth Development
Growers and Producers
The Extension & Outreach Team works to identify and evaluate opportunities and questions that growers face related to guar and guayule field crop conversion (e.g., cost, market, agricultural practices, pest management, and water usage).
Through a variety of stakeholder engagement tools, the Team gauges grower perceptions on a broad scale, using information gained to inform research priorities and serve as the foundation for stakeholder guidance documents and resources.
The Extension & Outreach Team is also conducting field-scale demonstrations to inform growers and other stakeholder audiences. Successful engagement will lead to measurable change in production acres of guar and guayule in the Southwestern U.S. at a scale that impacts biofuel and other high-value bioproduct markets in the near future.
Workforce Development and Internships
The SBAR project leverages an effective collaboration model for teachers and graduate students, where SBAR graduate students, K-12 teachers, and students work together to identify opportunities for enhancing student lessons and experiences. Graduate students are encouraged and trained to translate their expertise in biofuels-related research and applications directly into classrooms and they (1) serve as role models for related careers; (2) share real-life applications of modern agriculture; and (3) help K-12 students understand the benefits of agriculture to their communities and globally.
Through a separate but related internship program (Project Puente), SBAR targets youth still at the formative stages of developing interests in science, including economically disadvantaged, Latino and Native American youth. The SBAR project introduces a new internship opportunity focusing on biofuels to help inspire students from rural high schools to attend college and pursue bioscience careers.
SBAR 4-H Summer Camps and Youth Development
SBAR supports biofuel and energy extension and outreach to middle and high school students in rural and Native communities by offering teaching modules about land use for growing crops in biofuel production. We also are implementing a 4-H Bioenergy Youth Outreach and Engagement (BYOE) program that focuses on Native American and Hispanic youth. Through summer camps and other workshop opportunities, youth explore how natural resources, agricultural industry, and emerging technologies in the Southwest are changing energy opportunities in the context of their family, community and the world.
Progress Made Thus Far
The SBAR project’s goals and objectives are advertised to farmers and the public in New Mexico and Arizona through growers’ conferences, field days and through one-on-one visits with leading regional growers. Presentations are conducted at agricultural conferences in New Mexico and Arizona. SBAR informational tables are also hosted at different events where general information about guayule and guar is distributed to stakeholders.
Through a needs assessment, growers in Arizona provided information about their questions, concerns, and gaps in knowledge regarding guayule production in Arizona. Over 100 growers responded to the survey in Arizona, and all data collected will be used to improve future outreach. A guar-focused needs assessment will be launched in New Mexico in 2018.
An SBAR project advisory committee in New Mexico has been established, comprised of growers and extension educators. The committee will provide recommendations for improving the implementation of SBAR activities in New Mexico. A similar advisory committee will be created in Arizona to address regional concerns.
Guar demonstration trials were initiated at four sites in New Mexico in 2018 (Las Cruces, Artesia, Los Lunas, and Clovis), which will be used to showcase guar production practices during summer field days and meetings.
Research and Results