Share

Initiative 2. Develop and Disseminate a Narrative Around a “Culture of Stewardship” through Soil and Stream Health

The exciting new consensus based, collaborative strategy that has emerged from the conference embraces agriculture and its ingrained culture of stewardship, which constitutes the overarching theme infusing the entire partnership’s work moving forward. We are looking to agriculture for leadership and to be the solution for clean water.

By promoting this new narrative of stewardship and solution oriented leadership, we will move all farmers from looking at conservation as something they have to do to something they want to do. This narrative will be developed and communicated using traditional and modern, multimedia communication tools and approaches.

The hallmark of this narrative will be a farmer led effort to promote the importance of soil and stream health and making healthy soil and water marketable and fundamental to all agricultural operations across the Commonwealth. The key audience will be producers, in an effort to influence on the ground change by farmers.

While this statewide education and outreach initiative will seek to involve producers, service providers, conservation technicians, Extension educators, nonprofit conservation organizations, and the ag industry, its key methodology will involve farmer leaders as messengers, providing the blueprint for others to follow. It will build off of Pennsylvania’s successful farmer-led and agency efforts which embrace peer-to-peer and mentoring approaches, including the Pennsylvania No-Till Alliance and the NRCS soil health initiative. Capacity will be built for farmers to lead this effort. The effort will promote water quality-based conservation practices in the broader context of maintaining soil health and economic profitability.

A holistic approach to on-farm conservation will be taken, integrating soil health with manure management and riparian ecosystem stewardship.  This education and outreach strategy will work with farmers to comply with state regulatory requirements in a way that is good for long-term profitability of the farm, water quality and stream health, thus accelerating conservation implementation. This initiative will embrace the first of three-pronged approach to accelerating conservation implementation—education and outreach—and provide cheap and effective ways of delivering technical assistance through farmer-to-farmer sharing of improved management strategies.

To make this initiative successful and increase its impacts, a strategic communications plan will be developed, with focus on succinct and simple messaging, use of a variety of communications tools, and leveraging partners to market the brand and message.