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Climate Learning Forum Prepares to Launch


The USDA Northeast Climate Hub is creating a new Climate Learning Forum. The intention is to encourage networking among agricultural advisors across the Northeast.

Agriculture in our region is diverse and complex. The Northeast is the most heavily forested region in our country. Seven of the most populated states are also in our region. Production is varied with vegetables, fruit, horticulture, and specialty crops supplementing dairy, poultry, and field and grain crops. Climate impacts on farming in the Northeast have increased sharply in intensity and frequency in recent decades.  There is urgency to accelerate practices that help agricultural producers adapt and mitigate climate change. The agricultural service providers who work directly with farmers, foresters, and land managers are key to helping producers become more resilient to these changes.

The USDA Northeast Climate Hub builds partner networks that connect stakeholders to climate-related resources.

Our latest effort, in partnership with University of Vermont, is to create a Climate Learning Forum. The goal of the Climate Learning Forum is to design a place for discussions where climate questions can be asked and addressed. The primary  participants for this forum will be the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and University Extension Services in the Northeast. However, all interested Agricultural Service Providers (ASPs) are encouraged to engage, especially local conservation districts.

As a kick-off to the forum, Suzy Hodgson, UVM Extension and Lynn Knight, NRCS are convening climate listening and learning sessions. Extension and NRCS staff will work together to better understand current opportunities and barriers to adoption of climate adaptation and mitigation practices, and to share approaches to extension programing and information and resource sharing.

Hodgson, the new Climate Learning Forum project coordinator says:

“Our efforts will be focused on how we, as service providers, can best apply and make more accessible the resources and technical expertise we have to support farmers. While Extension and NRCS offer many programs and services, we know that many farming communities face a heavier burden from climate impacts so we need to improve the access to resources.”

Lynn Knight, USDA Northeast Climate Hub co-director says:

“USDA has a great network of service providers that work directly with producers through University Extension offices and NRCS field staff. As climate change becomes increasingly challenging to our producers, it will become more imperative that we work effectively together, combining our knowledge and skills in order to help producers maintain productivity and resilience.”

As our Climate Learning Forum develops, we will invite and engage ASPs in climate conversations on making conservation practices more accessible. 

Together, we aim to increase opportunities for adopting climate smart practices. A successful forum will elevate communications about the multiple benefits related to biodiversity, ecosystem health, resilience to climate change and other climate-related goals.