UNL TAPS Receives Outstanding Extension Program Award

UNL TAPS Receives Outstanding Extension Program Award

The Western Agricultural Economics Association (WAEA) recently honored the UNL-TAPS program with the Outstanding Extension Program Award at their annual meeting in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

Extension Specialist Matt Stockton receives the Outstanding Extension Program Award from the Western Agricultural Eocnomics Association.
Lynn Hamilton, the 2018-2019 president of Western Agricultural Economics Association presents Matt Stockton, UNL Ag Economics Assistant Professor & TAPS team member, with the Outstanding Extension Program Award. (Photo by Larry Van Tassell)

This award recognizes an individual or team actively involved in informal education of audiences external to the university. Programs are evaluated for the award on the basis of: (1) importance of the problem or subject, (2) overall effectiveness of the program, (3) appropriateness of economic analysis, (4) effectiveness of communication methods, and (5) evidence of accomplishment of objectives and positive impact on target audiences.

The TAPS program was nominated for the award by Larry Van Tassell, head of UNL’s Department of Agricultural Economics.

The WAEA is a “prominent association that annually recognizes outstanding Extension programs that are aimed at increasing the economic well-being of producers and communities,” said Van Tassell. The TAPS program is “very unique and needs to be recognized as an innovative program that is very effective in assisting producers to learn how to increase their net return.”

Van Tassell said that in the realm of economics the TAPS program provides an “opportunity for producers to understand that they need to pay particular attention to profit maximization and their marketing program, and not trying to just obtain the greatest yield.”

The Ogallala Water Coordinated Agriculture Project (OWCAP) team, which has worked hand-in-hand with the TAPS program team and understands the importance and effectiveness of this farm management competition, contributed a letter of support for the nomination.

“The innovative TAPS program, developed and implemented so successfully for the past two years by UNL Extension’s Chuck Burr, Daran Rudnick, and Matt Stockton, is a truly outstanding program that is demonstrably impacting the mindset and management practices of irrigators while engaging and educating a much broader audience both in and well beyond Nebraska, including state agency and groundwater management district staff, academics, students, seed and technology providers, and many others,” OWCAP leaders wrote.

“The TAPS program’s economic analysis approach directly and subtly trains competitors to develop and use a multi-dimensional decision-making approach in which increasing profitability is prioritized over maximizing yield,” the OWCAP team adds. 

Stockton, one of the creators of the program and WAEA member, said his favorite part of the TAPS program is “what you might call the personal moments.”

“These are the moments when participants think of new and innovative ways of being successful, when they learn from others, when they try new methods, or understand how to improve their own systems, increase their understanding, recognize ways to farm better and when they seek to lift others by sharing their experiences,” Stockton said. He attended the WAEA Annual Meeting and accepted the award for the TAPS program.