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Oregon's Agricultural Service Providers Are Building Community Resilience

Updated: Feb 3, 2023

Climate resilience on farms and ranches is rooted in place.

It looks different depending on what crops a farmer is growing and where, at what scale, and which markets they are selling to. When OrCAN was invited to deliver statewide training for technical service providers, we realized the most lasting impact we can have is to build connections between people who work in the same place.

If we can build communities focused on climate resilience at the regional level, between providers from different organizations, agencies and institutions, we strengthen our ability to problem solve together. We improve our ability to provide the resources, tools, information, and farmer networks that fit what farmers need.


OrCAN hosted our second annual climate resilience training for over 150 of Oregon’s agricultural professionals each Wednesday last October and we're excited to share what happened. Participants gathered online from across the state. You can check out recordings and our library of resources here. Attendees included staff from Oregon Natural Resource Conservation Service, Oregon State University Extension, Soil and Water Conservation District staff, watershed councils, land trusts, research, non-profits, state agencies, agricultural education providers and more.


“With so many requests for assistance to climate-related disasters, I appreciate this sharing of what truly feels like a traumatic experience almost every day in my work. It's hard to keep up with all of that. It's helpful to take a breath and feel like there are so many others in the room going through it with me and we are working to make it better. . .”

Each two-hour session included Pacific Northwest focused speakers and facilitated breakout work groups organized by region (there were statewide workgroups as well). Participants kept asking for more time to talk with each other, and we were able to accommodate their requests. The breakout rooms provided the space we needed to build community connections, to think through challenges, opportunities, and gaps that need to be filled.


Workshop topics included:

  1. Foundations for Climate Resilience Planning on Farms & Ranches in Oregon.

  2. Perspectives on effective communication with producers about resilience and conservation practices in the face of climate impacts

  3. Real world examples: identifying and implementing adaptation and resilience actions through the lens of case studies on farming for drought resilience

  4. Policy and market drivers for climate resilience: updates on Oregon policy, federal funding and ecosystem markets

You can find more details on the session topics, the speakers and recordings here.


The many new personal connections people made and their reactions to the generative conversations we shared continue to surprise us.


Here’s some highlights from our evaluation process:


“The breakout rooms were such a great way of 1) getting to know other people doing the same work in the same region, and 2) being able to share common experiences. Our breakout room was entirely made of women, and we discussed how our identities often shaped how farmers wanted to listen to us and changed the way we share our messaging.”

“With so many requests for assistance to climate-related disasters, I appreciate this sharing of what truly feels like a traumatic experience almost every day in my work. It's hard to keep up with all of that. It's helpful to take a breath and feel like there are so many others in the room going through it with me and we are working to make it better and have some solutions and positivity to bring to the table for our farmers, landowners, managers and ecosystems as a whole. I wish my whole office and/or local region was going through these trainings together, so we were able to discuss these issues in a facilitated, helpful manner.”

“This was one of the best run webinars I have ever attended.”

We opened up a critical conversation about climate grief and it was well received. Some feedback included:


“The questions you asked inspired thought. I especially appreciated the conversation about climate grief. It is a topic I had not really identified before and now can’t stop thinking about the relationship.”


“The term ‘climate anxiety’ is something I don’t think I encountered much before relative to climate grief; the discussion was very helpful to me in articulating how I feel about climate risks and my fears.”

We cannot do the work of climate resilience alone, or within our usual boxes, disconnected—one agency over there, nonprofits over here, and researchers focused somewhere else. Let's keep connecting.


This workshop series was made possible with funding from the Western Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Oregon Professional Development Program (WSARE PDP).


We’ve recently secured three years of funding for future climate resilience training!

We’re excited to continue this community of practice dedicated to supporting farming and ranching for climate resilience in Oregon. Get engaged in future training opportunities by answering our survey here.


 

We couldn’t have done this without our fabulous speakers and the support of our planning team! Thank you:

Amy Garrett - OSU Extension/Dry Farming Collaborative, Shayan Ghajar - OSU Extension Organic Pasture and Forages, Hannah Gosnell - OSU, Gordon Jones - OSU Extension S. Oregon, Jessi Kershner - OWEB, Lisa Kilders - Clackamas SWCD, Heather Medina Sauceda - OR NRCS, Katherine Minthorne - NW Intertribal Ag Council, Meghan Montgomery - Jackson SWCD, Cory Owens - OR NRCS, Maud Powell - OSU Extension S. Oregon.



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