An ambitious, University based, USDA sponsored research project investigating
the sustainable production and distribution of bioenergy and
bioproducts for the central U.S.

Energy, Environment and Extension Summit: Educating for the Future

Above: Extension Educators from around the country attended the 2014 Energy, Environment and Extension Summit, held in Ames, Iowa.
By Kristin Peterson

CenUSA Bioenergy ‘s took great strides towards its goal to increase knowledge and awareness of bioenergy and sustainability programs by hosting the 2014 Energy, Environment and Extension, or E3 Summit this October . The summit provided a forum for the exchange of research findings and university outreach ideas, methods and techniques.

The conference allowed scientists and extension experts to compare notes and cultivate new ideas about bioenergy.  The three-day event featured speakers, break-out sessions on bioenergy, interactive facility tours and the release of a new documentary featuring Iowa State’s STRIPS (Science-based Trials of Rowcrops Integrated with Prairies) project. The five -year research project has shown that strategically replacing as little as 10% of a row- cropped field with native prairie strips can reduce sediment export by as much as 95% and nitrogen export but as much 82%.

A goal of CenUSA is training two hundred extension specialists through webinars, field days, social media and other events. The E3 summit brought approximately 85 extension educators to the event.

A planning team selected presenters after reviewing abstracts submitted by extension educators from across the country. Selected presenters were provided stipends from CenUSA to attend the conference.

“We wanted to get as many people sharing as possible,” said Jill Euken, CenUSA Bioenergy Co-Project Director and Project Director for Extension and Education.

A special education and sharing session, presented by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, took place in the evening featuring the STRIPS video release.

“There has been so much positive interest about this research project and we knew we couldn’t talk to everyone or visit the experimental sites near Prairie City, so we thought a short video would be a good way to share it with people at the conference.” said Jeri Neal, who leads the Leopold Center’s Ecology Initiative and a member of the STRIPS research team. “We wanted to make it fun for everyone, while still presenting the science behind this project.”

Neal explained that science is not always the easiest thing to explain to people, especially after a long day of learning and sharing. This video worked to explain in a simple way the premise of the STRIPS project in a relaxed outdoor movie setting, complete with popcorn.

The new video can be seen here

CenUSA appreciates all the positive responses to the conference and will continue to share information through conferences, webinars, videos and fact sheets on the creation of sustainable bioenergy system for the Midwest.