Assessing the long-term impacts of waterquality outreach and education efforts on landowners in the Little Bear River watershedin northern Utah

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Journal/Book Title

Journal of Agricultural Education and Extension

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Taylor & Francis





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We assess the long-term effectiveness of outreach and education efforts associated with a water quality improvement project in a watershed located in northern Utah, USA. Conducted 15 years after the original project began, our research examines the lasting impacts of different extension activities on landowners’ motivations to participate and their awareness and understanding of the water quality problem. Data were gathered by reviewing annual project reports, interviewing project staff about outreach and education efforts, and conducting in-depth, semi-structured interviews with a majority of the farmers and ranchers who participated in the project. The findings suggest that landowners were motivated to participate in the programme more by practical farm and household considerations and available cost-share opportunities than by particular environmental concerns. Previous relationships between farmers and government programme staff and one-on-one visits with landowners played an important role in their decisions to participate, while demonstration projects and peer-to-peer social diffusion processes played a much smaller role than expected. Although participants had a good grasp of the project goals, they did not have a strong sense of ownership of the water quality problem. These results suggest that education and outreach approaches centred only on the environmental dimensions of conservation projects may be insufficient to motivate changes in conservation behaviour. The results also suggest that conventional outreach strategies often did not have their presumed impact on landowners.

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