Summer 2012 Energy Survey Results

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In 2012, the Center for Rural Affairs polled Extension Educators in Nebraska. 46 Educators from across Nebraska responded. The goal of the survey was to understand the frequency and type of questions Ag professionals received about renewable energy.

The results of the survey are below.

 

First, we wanted to know how frequently people received questions about energy.

You can see that most Extension Educators receive little to no questions related to energy in a given month.

 

Next, we wanted to learn which energy topics people were curious about. Those respondents who received questions (roughly half of all survey-takers) reported their breakdown. (Number of respondents is represented by the horizontal axis).

We see that the most popular topics are those related to energy technology (solar, wind, geothermal, et cetera), irrigation and energy conservation. There was some interest in financing, and no interest in storage options (batteries, reservoirs, et cetera).

 

We wanted to dig into the types of energy technology that are most popular.

Solar and wind were again popular options, but the two conservation responses represented a majority of the interest. Energy efficiency and conservation in homes and on farms is a hot topic. When it comes to energy efficiency, Nebraska has a lot of room for improvement.

 

We have an idea of types of questions Extension Educators receive about energy. Now we want to know what resources Educators refer people towards.

 

UNL literature is the most-popular resource by far, followed by government web sites and finally other extension agents. There is some utilization of the Nebraska Energy Office (NEO), but it seems Extension Educators are most comfortable with UNL resources.

 

We wanted an idea of where people were coming from. (Number of respondents indicated by vertical axis.)

There's a fairly even distribution of respondents by Extension district, but people from the Southeast and West Central districts received more inquiries.

We compared where people were to the types of information requests they received.

You can see that the Southeast District received more questions about technology and irrigation, while the West Central District was primarily dealing with questions related to technology, irrigation and conservation.

We then cross-analyzed location with specific questions about energy sources and conservation.

 

We wanted to assess whether Extension Educators felt confident searching for energy information.

Most people were "unsure" of where to look, meaning that Extension Educators are a prime audience for energy education. Enlightening the core group of Educators could make a big difference in terms of statewide energy projects. Although there are slight differences between regions, no one area was more aware of energy resources than another.

 

We wanted to know what be be most helpful to Educators facing energy questions.

The two most-frequent responses were for a statewide energy-expert, and for energy handouts. Coordinating with other agents and the Nebraska Energy Office were also popular desires.

Most interesting is the last option, an interactive online database linking resources and people.

Extension survey participants expressed a need for storage and discussion of resources. This matches what we hear from farmers and ranchers, who really want to hear from those with actual experience with energy technologies. Its one thing to read a manual, another to hear about a successful project from the horse's mouth.

 

Nebraska's Extension Educators already do a great job, but adding some energy-information to their toolkits could both make them more effective and help spur energy projects across Nebraska.