Innovative Extension projects focus on culturally responsive programming, emerging issues

Keeping an eye on practical research to benefit communities across Wisconsin, the UW-Madison Division of Extension recently awarded 19 projects with funding to expand culturally responsive programming, respond to emerging issues, and pilot innovative ways to use University research.

Extension’s competitive Innovation Funding series awarded more than $200,000 to 19 projects that span all of Wisconsin or individual counties. The proposals will implement projects that reach new audiences, support cross-topic work, and advance the division’s priorities.

“All of this work represents the true mission of Extension – to reflect the Wisconsin Idea and use University research and knowledge to create practical solutions for communities across the state,” said Dr. Karl Martin, Dean & Director for the UW-Madison Division of Extension. “We are excited to expand programs that have proven successful, pilot new ideas to meet emerging needs, and see where research can show us new ways of engaging communities.”

The 2020 Extension Innovation Funding series includes:

  • Building Extension Capacity to Work with Hmoob (Hmong) Farmers: strengthening relationships between Extension and Hmoob (Hmong) farm families in communities across Wisconsin. This project aims to increase healthy food access and security and address issues of food sovereignty by supporting the growers directly.
  • Tribes Lead!: Advancing tribal issues within Extension’s work and also across Wisconsin through tribal community-informed leadership development programs. You can read more about this project here.
  • Entrepreneurs of Color Research Initiative: This project will replicate and expand the Entrepreneurs of Color Research Initiative program in Milwaukee and incorporate new research learnings and opportunities.
  • Climate Cafe – A Menu for Building Resilient Wisconsin Communities: The Resilient Wisconsin Menu will be an interactive and comprehensive framework to enhance the resilience of Wisconsin communities to the impacts associated with disruptions from climate change and other systemic shocks. This project will provide a simplified and innovative assessment of strengths and gaps in the local systems to guide and coalesce communities around resilience and preparedness concepts and actions.
  • Tools for Nonprofit Managers During the Pandemic: an educational response to the immediate and intermediate capacity-building needs of nonprofits during the COVID-19 pandemic. The project will pilot a blended learning instructional design with the intent of launching a full curriculum statewide.
  • Stories of Pivotal Leadership – Sparking Hope and Shaping Change: elevating the voices of community members who are leading outside of traditional positions of power and whose voices often go unheard. The stories will be the basis for sparking hope and inspiring a new group of people to take action as leaders shaping community change.
  • Statewide Food Entrepreneurship Ecosystem: a framework that will promote and sustain a food entrepreneurship ecosystem in Wisconsin through training programs for start-up or expanding food ventures.
  • Culturally Responsive Curriculum and Training Development and Implementation: providing education around privilege, bias, and systemic racism to lead to difficult conversations about selves and systems to make systemic change from within.
  • Building Capacity in Justice Systems, Jail Reentry and Communities: addressing the needs of veterans and military service members who are involved across the local justice system in Dunn, Pepin, and Buffalo counties.
  • Youth Forward Wisconsin: furthering locally supported universal children’s savings accounts for higher education within communities. Locally funded accounts are those in which governments, businesses, non-profits, and other organizations provide funds for every child to be used toward post-secondary education.
  • Security Assessment Surveys in Wisconsin Communities: using parent surveys to collect local food security data for school communities in Wisconsin. This project will provide schools with timely and actionable data on food insecurity impacting the children and families in their community and assess efforts to address needs.
  • Better Urban Planning to Improve Human Health: rethinking how to plan, design, and build existing and future cities in ways that humans and wildlife can positively co-exist with minimal negative consequences.
  • Wisconsin Conservation Legacies – Growing the Next Generation of Land Stewards through Community Project: Upham Woods will host a series of events to connect youth and communities to the local landscape through service learning and hands-on environmental education.
  • Wisconsin Coastal Quests – Virtual Tours to Self-Guided Discovery: Upham Woods will create 10 quests for coastal counties in Wisconsin. Quests will be place-based learning adventures to inform and engage participants in local natural, cultural, and historic coastal issues.
  • Conveying the Role of Lakes and Lakeshore Parcels in Local Government Finance: an ESRI Story Map and associated look-up tables that convey the relative contribution of shoreland real estate to the property tax base in Wisconsin towns, cities, villages and counties.
  • Neighborhood Youth First Impressions: Capturing youth engagement in resources that help communities assess development opportunities through the recordings of outsider perspectives.
  • Helping Producers Maximize Crossbred Growth (2 projects): two separate projects to generate data around beef-dairy crossbred animals. The first project will focus on feedlot performance of beef-dairy crossbred animals in Midwestern states. There is currently very limited research done within this emerging livestock industry issue. On-farm data collection will be conducted across five midwestern states: Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan. This on-farm proposal will allow Extension educators to generate a database of information, with the end goal resulting in the benchmark information to accurately predict beef-dairy crossbred growth. The second project will determine the best feeding strategy to enable cattle feeders to improve management and potential profitability when raising crossbred animals.
  • Five Steps in Evaluation Online Course: an online course on program evaluation for staff to focus on impact and value of Extension programs across Wisconsin.