September 11, 2023

Outcomes & Impact Quarterly – Summer Issue Issue 2023

Stone cliffs and evergreen trees with winding highway and sunlit golden peaks in background in Logan Canyon

In This Issue

  • Evaluating the What’s Up Down South Economic Summit
  • The 2022 Intertribal Opioid Wellness Summit: Harm Reduction and Holistic Whole-Person Wellness
  • Assessing the Needs of Utah Dairy Farmers to Aid Extension Programming
  • Engaging Utah Educators to Teach 21st-Century Skills Using Drones
  • he Remote Online Initiative: a Legislative Strategy for Rural Workforce Development in Utah


This year marks 10 years in my role as dean and vice president, and it has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Our successes are unprecedented among USU’s excellent colleges and organizations statewide. Enrollment continues to increase, and our Extension programming continues to thrive and expand. We shine because our programs have been created or grown through innovations and dedication to serving our students and the people of Utah.

My passion for Utah State University is stronger than ever. Please enjoy this issue of Outcomes & Impact Quarterly highlighting what we continue to do well – providing opportunities and changing lives for our students, faculty, staff, and communities throughout Utah.


Kenneth L. White
Dean, College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences; Vice President, Extension and Agriculture

Evaluating the What’s Up Down South Economic Summit

Paul Hill and Amanda D. Ali

Business leaders sometimes struggle to find and use reliable information for decision making. The What’s Up Down South Economic Summit was created to provide the business community with economic insights to assist in making informed decisions, including reports that demonstrate how global and national trends affect state and local conditions. The event has been southern Utah’s largest business gathering for 27 years.

In 2023, USU Extension evaluated the 27th annual economic summit. Participant data had not previously been collected to determine the effectiveness or value of the summit. The evaluation gathered demographic data, learning and satisfaction metrics for each speaker and workshop, and general feedback on the summit.

Results showed the summit is an effective platform for disseminating information and advancing knowledge on economic and business topics. Areas for improvement were also noted by the evaluation team.

Post-summit surveys indicated:

  • 75% of participants rated their experience as very good or excellent.
  • 90% said it provided valuable information to them personally.
  • 78% would use what they learned at the summit to make decisions for their organization.
  • 91% agreed the summit provided a valuable experience to the business community.
  • 84% would recommend attending the summit to their friends, family, and colleagues.

Recommended improvements include:

  • Increasing the size and diversity of the organizing committee.
  • Conducting focus groups to determine the most relevant topics of interest.
  • Shortening the summit by an hour so participants have time to network.
  • Beginning the planning process 6 months earlier.
  • Recording the summit for later viewing.

Workshop topics included:

  • FAA regulations.
  • Programming drones.
  • Setting up competition fields.
  • Accessing online curriculum resources.

The 2022 Intertribal Opioid Wellness Summit: Harm Reduction and Holistic Whole-Person Wellness

Lily Ward, Valentine Sireech, Suzi Prevedel, and Cris Meier

Substance use disorder is a top priority issue in tribal and rural communities across Utah. This public health problem is amplified by limited access to substance use interventions and a prevalent social stigma surrounding substance misuse. To address this, the Tribal and Rural Opioid Initiative Resource Center launched the bi-annual Intertribal Opioid Wellness Summit in 2018. The summit brings together Native American community members, allies, and local service providers to improve awareness of harm reduction resources and reduce stigma associated with drug use and evidence-based interventions.

The 2022 Summit focused on sharing cultural strengths, strategies, and best practices for tackling opioid misuse and accidental overdose poisoning. With over 155 participants, including a significant representation from Utah’s tribal communities, the summit promoted a comprehensive understanding of prevention, treatment, and recovery services. 

Future efforts will include further collaboration, stigma reduction, and improved harm reduction services in tribal and rural communities. By increasing knowledge and building partnerships, the impact of the summit is expected to continue, contributing to long-term solutions to the opioid crisis.

Post-summit surveys indicated:

  • 99% agreed that the summit helped reduce stigma around substance use disorders.
  • 94% of participants felt a stronger sense of community.
  • 92% reported a better understanding of harm reduction practices.
  • 90% learned about resources that could assist them in their work.

Assessing the Needs of Utah Dairy Farmers to Aid Extension Programming

Bruce Richards, Lendel Narine, Justin Clawson, Kalen Taylor, Jacob Hadfield, and Jody Gale

The Utah State University dairy Extension team conducted a needs assessment to identify the most urgent issues faced by Utah dairy farmers. The assessment was conducted through a survey sent to dairy farmers in Utah, and the data was collected from November 2022 to January 2023. The survey included 26 topics categorized into six major themes: labor, water, health and nutrition, replacements, management, and public relations.

The survey results indicate that all dairy topics were ranked at least slightly important, and access to educational resources on these topics was ranked at least average. The needs assessment will help allocate resources effectively to educational programs that target the high-priority needs of dairy farmers in Utah.

Workshops and field days have been organized on topics such as agriculture water optimization, adoption of new technology, and managing risk. Other needs will be addressed through future dairy Extension programming, including workshops, conferences, and fact sheets.

27 people completed the survey.

The top five priority needs identified by the farmers were:

  • Implementing new technology.
  • Succession planning.
  • Managing risk.
  • Reducing feed costs.
  • Improving public perception of water use.

See the full results at

Engaging Utah Educators to Teach 21st-Century Skills Using Drones

Denise Stewardson, Cory Ortiz, Lendel K. Narine, and Joseph Furse

Many teachers lack knowledge and experience using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones in the classroom, particularly in the context of agriculture and promoting agricultural literacy. This limits their ability to teach complex STEM skills and engage students in 21st-century learning.

Because of this, a professional development program was conducted to provide training to 56 teachers in Utah. The program aimed to enhance their skills in using UAVs to promote agricultural literacy in the classroom.

The evaluation of the program showed positive outcomes. Participants demonstrated significant knowledge gain in using drones for agricultural education. They also experienced a notable increase in self-efficacy in using drones for instructional activities. Teachers reported high levels of satisfaction with the workshop, rating it as very good or excellent.

The program's impact extended beyond the workshops, as several teachers had already ordered quadcopter drones for their classrooms. The training empowered teachers to integrate UAV technology effectively, engage students in motivating instructional activities, and teach technical skills and agricultural literacy simultaneously.

Future steps include developing a self-replicating training model to enable agricultural and STEM teachers to use emerging technologies and flexible laboratory spaces for cross-disciplinary instruction. This model aims to promote agricultural and technological literacy among students and enhance their 21st-century skills.

Workshop topics included:

  • FAA regulations.
  • Programming drones.
  • Setting up competition fields.
  • Accessing online curriculum resources.

The Remote Online Initiative: A Legislative Strategy for Rural Workforce Development in Utah

Amanda D. Ali and Paul Hill

Rural Utah faced high unemployment rates and limited job opportunities, leading to the initiation of the Remote Online Initiative (ROI) in 2018 by the Utah Legislature. The program's aim was to reduce unemployment by providing remote job placements through three flagship certificate courses: Certified Remote Work Professional (CRWP), Certified Remote Work Leader (CRWL), and Certified Tech Sales Professional (CTSP).

Based on the evaluation results, all three courses met their short-and-medium-term outcomes. The CRWP course met its long-term outcome of reduced unemployment in rural counties by 0.5% for Daggett, Emery, Garfield, and Piute counties. Additionally, the program has a positive impact on the professional development of Extension professionals. Plans for the program's expansion include an e-commerce course set to launch in 2024 aimed at improving online sales for small and rural agricultural businesses. With continued course improvements, the ROI program expects to meet its long-term outcome of rural workforce development.

Some results of the courses include:

  • 411 graduates from the CRWP course have found remote jobs.
  • 55% of CRWL participants have successfully created remote work environments.
  • CRWL participants with remote work environments have hired an average of 19 remote employees.

Summer 2023

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