Dr. Fred Provenza
Dr. Fred Provenza grew up in Salida, Colorado, working on a ranch while attending school in Wildlife Biology at Colorado State University. He obtained graduate degrees and worked at Utah State University for 35 years. He is now professor emeritus of Behavioral Ecology in the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University where he directed an award-winning research group that pioneered understanding of how learning through metabolically mediated flavor-feedback relationships and experiences in utero and early in life influence foraging behavior and how behavior links the health of soil, plants, herbivores, and humans.
As a trained soil scientist and agronomist, Patrick O’Neill advocates for soil health education and practice implementation as a consultant to farmers and ranchers and through volunteer efforts with the conservation districts in his watershed. Currently, O’Neill serves as a supervisor for the Mosca-Hooper Conservation District in Alamosa County, within the San Luis Valley of Colorado.
Drew Gaugler grew up on a farm and ranch in southwest North Dakota. Upon graduation from high school, he knew he wanted to be involved with production agriculture but he also wanted to continue his education. For several years, Drew worked in the oil industry where he became a mechanical engineer. By working in an outside industry, he found and created opportunities to become involved with farming and ranching on a full-time basis. He now manages a cow-calf and sheep operation along with native and improved pasture as well as winter forage/hayland acres.
Dr. Erin Gaugler
Dr. Erin Gaugler grew up on a farm and ranch in southwest North Dakota. Upon graduation from high school, she knew she wanted to be involved with the agricultural industry but she did not know to what extent. She has spent the last several years continuing her education and working off the farm to advance her knowledge of agriculture and natural resource management. At this time, she is finishing a Ph.D in Range Science and has transitioned back to the farm and ranch on a full-time basis. She now manages a cow-calf and sheep operation along with cropland, hayland, and CRP acres.
Dr. Dannele Peck
Dr. Dannele Peck is Director of the Northern Plains Climate Hub, with the USDA Agricultural Research Service in Fort Collins, Colorado. The Climate Hub connects agricultural producers with science-based resources and partners to enable weather-ready and climate-smart decisions in farming, ranching, and forestry.
Dr. Brent Young
Dr. Brent Young serves as an Agricultural Business Management Economist with Colorado State University Extension. Brent strives help farmers and ranchers manage risk through the development, delivery and evaluation of non-credit educational programming.
Registration is now open!
Managing Landscapes for Health
Dr. Fred Provenza
Diversity is one of the five principles of soil health. But what is the association between building diversity into your agroecosystem and the soil microbes, plants, livestock and humans? For decades, Dr. Provenza has studied the grazing behavior of animals, bringing to light the innate nutritional wisdom and the importance of plant diversity in enabling them to meet their nutritional and medicinal needs. In this session, he will discuss how plants turn dirt into soil and how diverse mixtures of plants help turn this soil into homes, grocery stores, and pharmacies for all life above and below ground.
Building Soil Health with Fungal-Rich Compost
In the arid west, soil health issues include water scarcity, soil instability, and reduced production. Patrick O’Neill will discuss how he is assisting growers in the San Luis Valley to increase knowledge and the resources available to adopt regenerative practices in their operations. He will focus on an innovative approach to building soil health through the local production and application of fungal-rich compost. Patrick will highlight how these farmer-centered efforts are building capacity and increasing adoption rates while improving economics, water use efficiency, and soil health.
Bringing Life to Broken Ground
Erin and Drew Gaugler
After college and short careers off-farm, siblings Erin and Drew Gaugler returned home to take over the family farm. While the farm had been in their family for close to 100 years, the farming practices of their parents and grandparents left the ground worn out and unproductive. Using the knowledge garnered from traveling, studying, and working, they redesigned the farm, putting soil health first. In this session, you will learn about the practices the Gauglers are incorporating to reimagine their family’s legacy and how they are leveraging funds from the USDA’s Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program to innovate and advance on-farm sustainability.
Local Project Updates
Lessons from Agricultural Land Restoration Eric Fairlee, City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks
CDA STAR+ Vanessa McCracken, Boulder Valley and Longmont Conservation District
Zero Food Print Update Nick DiDomenico, Elk Run Farm
Creating Resilience in a Changing Climate
Dr. Dannele Peck
The consequences of a changing climate for agricultural producers can feel uncertain and overwhelming, making it hard to know what to do or how to get started. What are some proven practices for building climate resiliency into your operation? What makes financial sense? Dr. Peck will discuss how to make informed decisions in the face of uncertainty, how healthy soils increase resilience to climate change, and provide some tools and resources for growers to begin thinking about and building climate resilience into their operations without getting overwhelmed.
Managing a Margin Squeeze
Dr. Brent Young
It’s easy to define a successful growing season by looking at yield, but economists know that evaluating success takes into consideration the cost to attain that yield. With interest rates, inflation, and input costs being the highest in recent memory, now is the time to start or restart good financial habits. Dr. Young will introduce an Excel-based template that will allow producers to develop a budget for both crops and livestock as well as a whole farm cash flow statement.
Regenerating the Arid West Roundtable
Each of today’s speakers have discussed unique solutions for restoring degraded soils, providing pathways for hope and progress in an uncertain future. Our invited speakers will take the stage in a panel moderated by Boulder Valley and Longmont Conservation District Manager, Vanessa McCracken. This panel will address some of the overarching themes discussed during the conference, answer questions from the audience, and provide insight into the challenges and opportunities that exist for regenerating the millions of acres of degraded land in the western United States.