Our climate is changing and changes in climate have been a defining factor in agriculture and water quality within the North Central Region. Extreme weather events have the capacity to drastically impact our waterways, and climate variability creates shifts in crops, cropping seasons, and plant hardiness zones.
Extension professionals play a key role in supporting farmers, natural resource managers, and communities by providing education, resources, and research to strengthen decision-making. Changes in climate continue to present challenges for both extension professionals and the clients they serve alike and research shows that both groups need additional education on climate science and guidance on climate change adaptation practices.
There is a need within extension to build core competencies in the area of climate science, climate change, and its impacts on agriculture and communities in order for educators to engage stakeholders in discussing the realities of a changing climate and the adaptation strategies that need to be employed to ensure success.
The North Central Climate Collaborative (NC3) was formed in 2015 to help address this need. The group is comprised of individuals with expertise in climate science, agronomy, stormwater management, and other disciplines, and is working to increase the flow and usability of climate information for extension, farmers, natural resource managers, and communities. The team is working to increase the adoption of climate-smart practices, improving water management, while maintaining profitability.
Specifically, NC3 aims to serve as points of contact with each state/land-grant university on climate change and adaptation, provide climate-related professional development opportunities to extension personnel, and organize and train peers and front-line professionals in climate change topics that affect agriculture, natural resources, and communities.
Since the North Central Climate Collaborative formed in 2015, the team has made substantial progress toward their goals.
To date the NC3 team has:
- Convened as a group to set research, outreach and resource priorities.
- Produced a regional needs assessment summarizing current extension expertise on meteorology and climatology and addressing current climate education issues.
- Initiated a dialogue with the US Drought Monitor (USDM) and other partners allowing strategic information to be shared linking Extension personnel, the National Agricultural Statistics Service, and USDM.
- Held a bimonthly webinar series on water, climate, and agriculture for agriculture and community development professionals across the North Central Region and beyond
- Held four extension-focused trainings to further integrate research and extension and assist in educating climate professionals on a range of climate topics
- Supported a series of state-based climate summits in Kansas, Ohio, and Nebraska.