Education about farm biodiversity (2010-)
It is very important to me to ensure that research reaches back to deliver findings to the public in appropriate ways. This includes farmer extension, informal youth engagement and formal schools curricula.
After my post-doctoral research on scattered tree decline on Australian grazing properties, we created a synthesis YouTube video, and a series of five information sheets for farmers synthesizing our findings, now available in the local catchment authority. We also collaborated in the design of three interdisciplinary curriculum modules (seven lessons each) for the New South Wales public school curriculum about the importance of scattered trees, for grades 1/2, 5/6 and 11, and saw the first one trialed in the region, including a field day for students to visit a farm to plant and protect scattered trees.
Findings from our Nova Scotia studies on farm biodiversity inform our online clearinghouse for information on biodiversity-friendly farming – BioLOG, the Biodiversity Landowners Guide – that draws together information and collaborators from a range of federal and provincial departments, as well as some custom materials. BioLOG was funded by DNR and developed over 2014 by Dalhousie Computer Science students working with my lab and with advice from DNR and NSFA extension officers. In January 2015 we added information on how to cope with the top four nuisance species in NS based on our Nuisance Nature survey (deer, coyote, bear and raccoon). In February/March 2015 Environment Canada funding allowed us to add an entry point for farmers to learn about 14 species at risk in Nova Scotia, and how to foster them, adding Mersey-Tobeatic Research Institute to the collaborative team.
We also collaborated in April 2014 with the NSDA, NSDNR and the NSFA on a cartoon insert for theChronicle Herald newspaper about farm biodiversity, called Farm Habitat, and associated interdisciplinary curriculum modules for Nova Scotia grade 4 teachers, to mark National Wildlife Week. We developed with Wonderlust a short animation video to promote modified harvest practices, and riparian management. Adoption of both of these practices were significantly linked to engagement in the NS DNR ABC program. Early in 2016 we developed materials for group leaders (4H, guides/scouts) and teachers of all grades about biodiversity-friendly farming.