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Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 13, Supplement 1, pp 45–55 | Cite as

Warming up to climate change: a participatory approach to engaging with agricultural stakeholders in the Southeast US

  • Wendy-Lin Bartels
  • Carrie A. Furman
  • David C. Diehl
  • Fred S. Royce
  • Daniel R. Dourte
  • Brenda V. Ortiz
  • David F. Zierden
  • Tracy A. Irani
  • Clyde W. Fraisse
  • James W. Jones
Original Article

Abstract

Within the context of a changing climate, scientists are called to engage directly with agricultural stakeholders for the coproduction of relevant information that will support decision making and adaptation. However, values, beliefs, identities, goals, and social networks shape perceptions and actions about climate change. Engagement processes that ignore the socio-cultural context within which stakeholders are embedded may fail to guide adaptive responses. To facilitate dialog around these issues, the Southeast Climate Consortium and the Florida Climate Institute formed a climate learning network consisting of row crop farmers, agricultural extension specialists, researchers, and climate scientists working in the Southeast US. Regional in scope, the learning network engages researchers and practitioners from Alabama, Georgia, and Florida as partners in adaptation science. This paper describes the ongoing interactions, dialog, and experiential learning among the network’s diverse participants. We illustrate how participatory tools have been used in a series of workshops to create interactive spaces for knowledge coproduction. For example, historical timelines, climate scenarios, and technology exchanges stimulated discussions about climate-related risk management. We present findings from the workshops related to participants’ perspectives on climate change and adaptation. Finally, we discuss lessons learned that may be applicable to other groups involved in climate education, communication, and stakeholder engagement. We suggest that the thoughtful design of stakeholder engagement processes can become a powerful social tool for improving decision support and strengthening adaptive capacity within rural communities.

Keywords

Climate adaptation Participatory process Stakeholder network Experiential learning 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Special thanks are extended to all row crop producers and county extension agents who have participated in the climate learning network. Their generous time, curiosity, and consistent feedback have made this work possible. We also acknowledge the dedication and support from partners within Cooperative Extension services of three Southeast universities: John Beasley & Bob Kemerait (UGA), David Wright (UF), William Birdsong (UA). Thanks to researchers within the SECC and FCI: Gerrit Hoogenboom, Carla Roncoli, Mark Boudreau, Michael Thomas, Scott Templeton, Christine Engels, and Emily Rodriguez. Jennifer Arnold and Matthew Palumbo offered invaluable editing on the manuscript. We have benefited from the relationships and funds generated through the National Commission on Energy Policy (NCEP)—Iconic Agricultural Crops: Climate Change Impacts on Peanut, Cotton, and Corn in Georgia and Florida, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)—Climate variability to climate change: Extension challenges and opportunities in the Southeast USA, and the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wendy-Lin Bartels
    • 1
  • Carrie A. Furman
    • 2
  • David C. Diehl
    • 1
  • Fred S. Royce
    • 1
  • Daniel R. Dourte
    • 1
  • Brenda V. Ortiz
    • 3
  • David F. Zierden
    • 4
  • Tracy A. Irani
    • 1
  • Clyde W. Fraisse
    • 1
  • James W. Jones
    • 1
  1. 1.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Crop and Soil SciencesUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.Agronomy & Soils201 Funchess Hall, Auburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  4. 4.Florida Climate Center and Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction StudiesThe Florida State UniversityTallahasseeUSA

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