Outreach, Extension & Education

While pennycress holds considerable agronomic and economic promise, farmers cannot be expected to sacrifice profitability or assume greater risk in the production of new oilseed crop species. Therefore, the adoption of pennycress will hinge on developing methods that seamlessly integrate into existing traditional crop production systems with minimal economic risk. To take advantage of these opportunities, our extension and outreach efforts focus on providing  farmers with the information they need regarding pennycress management techniques and regionally adjusted examples of hos pennycress can work in existing cropping systems.

Additionally, we need to start preparing the next generation to work with pennycress, which is why our education efforts focus on promoting awareness and adoption of pennycress by developing and testing materials targeted toward stakeholders, including rural youth and their families, current and future farmers, and the public. Additionally, we will contribute to preparing a skilled workforce for the biobased economy by leveraging IPREFER project research, providing interdisciplinary research experiences for graduate and undergraduate students, and developing bioenergy curricula for post-secondary education. The results of these activities will be widely disseminated via research publications, undergraduate courses, agricultural field days, in-person 4-H club meetings, regional and national FFA and 4-H conventions and fairs, and a dedicated website.

Learn more about our Undergraduate Research Experience program for 2021.

Research Goals

Our  extension and outreach goals are twofold:

  • Provide farmers and crop consultants/advisors with new cropping system information and demonstrate innovative strategies that result in greater adoption and less production risk in the utilization of the pennycress oilseed.
  • Use this construct to educate rural communities on relevant aspects of biology and life science, the importance of pennycress breeding and its role in food security, and broader topics related to environmental and societal sustainability.

Our education goals are to:

  • Promote 4-H and FFA engagement
  • Train a skilled workforce
  • Develop graduate and undergraduate education
  • Develop Metrics and Dissemination protocols

Team

Leadership

  • Rebekka Darner, Co-PI, Illinois State Univ.
  • William (Willy) Hunter, Co-PI Illinois State Univ.

Collaborators and Graduate Students

  • Chris Aulbach, CoverCress, Inc.
  • Mary Brakke, Univ. of Minnesota (LEAD – IPS-URE Research Fellowships & Internships)
  • Matthew Hagaman, Illinois State Univ.
  • Nicholas Heller, Illinois State Univ.
  • Frances Lawrenz, Univ. of Minnesota
  • Alexander (Alex) Lindsey, The Ohio State Univ.
  • Emily Schoenfelder, Univ. of Illinois
  • Rachel Sparks, Illinois State Univ. (Grad. Student)
  • Samantha S. Wells, Univ. of Minnesota