Oregon Tilth Offers Organic Certification and Natural Resources Conservation Cross-Training Materials
Website provides instructional materials and educational resources to encourage locally adapted cross-training courses and align efforts of conservation and organic professionals working with private landowners.
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Sept. 13, 2010 – With grant funding support from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (WSARE) Professional Development Program, Oregon Tilth partnered with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and other regional partners to deliver training sessions and tools to an audience of organic and conservation professionals. The training materials for the cross training series are now available on Oregon Tilth’s website at http://tilth.org/education-research/nrcs
“With this website, we’ve made available instructional materials and educational resources to align efforts of conservation and organic professionals as well as to encourage others to offer similar trainings,” said Chris Schreiner, Oregon Tilth’s Executive Director.
The project planning team developed training curricula that can be replicated in other regions for future training sessions. Materials developed include a multi-day training agenda, involving in-class presentations, group discussion activities, pre- and post-tests, and site-specific, inquiry-based field activities.
In 2009, the Organic Conservation Cross-Training Series was delivered to help in-the-field conservation planners and organic certification professionals correlate the requirements of organic certification with those of traditional conservation practices and Farm Bill programs. The Organic Conservation Cross-Training brought organic professionals and natural resource specialists together to:
• Learn how traditional conservation practices can benefit organic systems,
• Advance solutions that shape conservation practices to organic operations, and
• Increase the scope of conservation assistance available to organic producers.
Four sessions were held, two in Oregon and two in Washington. Each session focused on a different type of organic cropping system – dairy, grain, tree fruit and annual vegetable. Topics covered soil quality, nutrient management, wildlife habitat as well as insect, weed and disease management.
The training sessions were attended by a variety of professionals in natural resources and the organic industry from Oregon, Washington and Idaho, including:
• Organic certification professionals
• Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) conservation planners
• Soil & Water Conservation District (SWCD) planners & district managers
• Other government agency natural resource professionals
The training sessions received positive evaluation results from participants. The highest ranked components included group interactions and discussions, organic farm tours and field activities, organic producer panels and presentations by university faculty on the research and science underlying organic management practices. Over eighty percent of participants indicated they would definitely apply the new information and resources they learned at the training, and the remaining participants said they were likely to do so.
“The cross training series helped break down some barriers to cooperating and bridge the knowledge gap between organic and conservation professions,” Schreiner said. “I hope others use the resources we’re sharing on the website to build upon this important work.”
About Oregon Tilth
Oregon Tilth is a nonprofit organization supporting and promoting biologically sound and socially equitable agriculture through education, research, advocacy and certification. Oregon Tilth is a world leader in organic certification of food providers from soil to store, and is noted for the integrity of the Oregon Tilth Certified Organic label. Oregon Tilth’s purpose is to educate gardeners, farmers, legislators and the general public about the need to develop and use sustainable practices that promote soil health, conserve natural resources, and prevent environmental degradation while producing a safe and healthful food supply.