An important and required component of the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture climate change coordinated agriculture projects is education. Specifically, these projects are required to “increase the number of scientists, educators, and extension professionals in the workforce with the skills and knowledge to address climate change issues in agriculture and improve our understanding of climate change, its impacts, and options for environmental stewardship among producers and consumers of agricultural and forestry products." More specifically, “develop[ing] and provid[ing] structured research training and academic programs for undergraduate and graduate students that lead to an increased number of professionals with cross-disciplinary training in agriculture and climate science” is an important and required outcome of these projects.
As part of the education component of PINEMAP, a climate and forests distance graduate course was developed and launched in the spring of 2012, and a second offering will take place in spring 2013. The course goals and objectives are described below.
Engage graduate students in exploring climate change mitigation and adaptation issues in southern pine forests.
- Build capacity for integration among research disciplines and between research and education/Extension.
- Increase understanding of southern pine management, climate, climate change, carbon sequestration, and environmental controls on southern pine productivity.
- Increase understanding of the policy and economic realities driving regional pine forest management.
- Increase understanding of education and communication principles applied to effective outreach strategies, the process of program development and evaluation, and the strategies used by Cooperative Extension to support changes in behavior.
- Gain an appreciation for the breadth and complexity of the impact of climate change on southern pine forests.