Need assessments are a critical component of Extension’s program development. The purpose of this study was to determine which crop and resource-use needs are important for growers across the state and will serve as a guide to develop and deliver programs that address critical needs and issues. Extension educational programs are based on critical needs of the community, identified through formal need assessments conducted by Extension faculty and staff members. Building on this framework, Extension collaborated with the University’s College of Education and Human Development to design a survey and key informant interview protocol for learning the statewide grower's need via various avenues. Issues identified in research literature and communication with growers became the initial step that helped form the foundation of this statewide needs assessment.
A mixed-method assessment strategy comprising of a statewide online survey and key informant interviews were conducted. The survey was available online for completion from mid-April through mid-October 2020 and resulted in 215 completed surveys of Nevada citizens. The survey was distributed via email to statewide Extension Educators, administrators, federal agencies, links posted to various social media accounts, websites, newsletters and outreach activities. A snowball survey method was employed to ensure broad exposure and maximize the response rate. Key informant interviews were conducted from the end of August through early November 2020 and included 22 stakeholders statewide. These key informant interviews provided in-depth crop and resource-use perspectives as they focused on Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) in addition to a few questions related to crops and soils.
In summary, various program topics were identified as significant needs through analysis of results from both the online surveys and interviews. The top concerns, as identified through surveys and key informant interviews, were: low-water use crops, specialty crops, cover crops, soil health, nutrient and irrigation management, noxious weed management, pest management, pollinators and their health, and new crop production and marketing. It should be noted that while this is a statewide crop and resource-use needs assessment, the identification of a need does not imply Extension should address all the identified needs. Expertise, staffing, and other organizations addressing priority needs all influence Extension future programming. Nevertheless, this assessment identified several significant issues that will guide continuing and future educational and research-based Extension programming.
For the complete special report that includes needs assessment methods, survey results, outcomes, discussion, limitations and summary, use the link below to download the PDF version of the report.