Proposed by: Dr.Marina D'abreau Denny

Presenters: Denny, M. D., Extension Associate, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762
Jones, W. D., Associate Professor, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, MS 39762

The Natural Resource Enterprises (NRE) Program was established in the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and Cooperative Extension Service at Mississippi State University to educate non-industrial private landowners in the Southeast about sustainable natural resource enterprises and compatible habitat management practices. The NRE Program is focused on effectively delivering information to landowners and community leaders that will encourage informed decision-making regarding the management of land and enterprises. The primary objectives are for landowners to learn about and implement conservation practices on their lands and establish new NRE business start-ups and revenue generation due to participation in NRE programming. The primary outreach method is site-specific workshops targeting landowners, agricultural producers, and local community and elected officials in sustainable nature-based tourism and conservation practices on private lands. Workshops consist of subject matter experts providing relevant information on conservation planning, evaluating revenue potential, writing a business plan, liability and legal consideration, and marketing. Landowners offer testimonials of the success of their NRE start-ups. The latter half of the workshop is a guided tour of the host property with presentations at selected stops. Secondary outreach is via web-based training (podcasts and articles) with more specific information on various topics. Attendees complete a questionnaire about their experience at events and their rating of content, instructors, the learning environment, and how they plan to use the information. In 2012, 98% of survey respondents (N=149) attending NRE workshops reported that the information they learned at events would help increase revenue potential on their properties. Ninety-six percent (N=137) indicated the information would help them meet habitat conservation and wildlife management goals on their lands. The average respondent expected to earn approximately $23,167 in additional income using the knowledge gained at the workshop, resulting in an aggregate cash flow of approximately $1.82 million per year. Seventy-eight percent (N=118) intended to change their land-use practices using knowledge gained at the event. Additionally, participants are asked to complete a more detailed Natural Resource Enterprises Landowner Survey within one year of attending a workshop. Private landowners and producers can diversify incomes and increase conservation on their lands by developing fee-access outdoor recreational enterprises, but landowner knowledge in establishing and operating these types of businesses is limited. Thus, the NRE Program is perfectly positioned to provide educational workshops to train landowners and producers in developing outdoor recreational businesses on working lands.

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