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Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Pp. 041-045 in Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Environmental Regulations–II Proceedings of the 8-12 November 2003 Conference (Albuquerque, New Mexico USA), Publication Date 8 November 2003.  .(doi:10.13031/2013.15536)
Authors:   L. Oldham and C. Castille
Keywords:   TMDL, Water quality, Stakeholders, Environmental stewardship, Agricultural environmental education, Conservation.

Water quality issues such as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL's) are relatively new concepts for agricultural managers in the mid-south. In addition, recent changes in federal agricultural policy increased the emphasis on conservation related issues. Each state has unique watershed and commodity specific factors to consider in developing effective educational programs to build awareness of the issues, challenges, and opportunities, and foster voluntary and positive environmental actions. Louisiana State University developed an Environmental Stewardship educational module in an agricultural proficiency Master Farmer program. For the stewardship module, multiple state agencies and advocacy groups developed a three tier process by which farmers receive instruction on environmental issues, participate in Best Management Practice demonstrations, and develop Conservation Plans. By mid-2003, over eight hundred farmers have participated in the educational phase of the program, and are continuing in the subsequent processes through development of model farms and conservation plans. Mississippi State University Extension Service conducted environment stewardship education needs assessment in February, 2003 with approximately 200 agricultural stakeholders participating in advisory council processes. Fifty-seven percent of the respondents knew the name of their watershed; 93% indicated interest in participating in a voluntary environmental educational program, and receiving credit for good stewardship. Significant knowledge gaps were identified concerning water quality issues, conservation programs, and environmental regulations. With these demonstrated needs, MSU-ES, with Mississippi-based agency and advocacy group partners, began development of a watershed-based agricultural-environmental stewardship educational program. These programs, and similar ones, involve the agricultural community in taking active ownership of water quality issues in their immediate landscape.

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