Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems

Regenerative Agriculture Management Systems Professional Course Series

hands on a computer on a picnic table with a cup of coffee

Download a printable brochure about the Professional Course Series (PDF)

California is the nation’s leading agricultural producer by total receipts, generating over $50 billion in 2019, far exceeding the number two leading state of Iowa ($27.5 billion). By sheer size and productivity, California has significant potential to contribute to working lands conservation efforts.

However, climate change, diminishing soil health, low implementation of conservation efforts, and lack of knowledge and/or access to information, training, and assistance with systems-based agricultural management have left us less resilient and more vulnerable to economic and environmental threats.

CRARS has developed this four-course professional series, offered through Chico State Regional and Continuing Education(opens in new window), to support the expansion of systems-based farm, ranch, and forest management practices on California working lands, and foster conversation and innovative, collaborative strategies to address current and future threats and opportunities for California agricultural production. The courses are:

  • Systems Theory and Practice
  • Soil Health Systems
  • Science & Practice of Ecological Forest and Range Management
  • Farm/Ranch Planning & Design

Participants can take any or all courses in the series. Though the courses are not sequential, we do recommend beginning with course #1 as a foundation for future learning. 

Course Structure:

  • Fully online for flexibility and convenience
  • Lectures and coursework (5-6 hours per week) completed at your own time and pace
  • Weekly, one-hour live-online discussions with participants and faculty
  • Pass/No Pass quizzes to gauge your mastery of the content
  • Certificate of completion given at the end of each course 

Fee: $650 per course

Ag Professionals, please note:

This course series is currently included as part of our Technical Service Provider Training Program(opens in new window). There are fully funded training opportunities you may qualify for if you live in California and meet other eligibility requirements. If you want one of those grants, you will need to be pre-approved before registering for classes. (Don't delay!)

Systems Theory and Practice

Course Dates: Six weeks starting Sept. 21, 2022 — NEW DATE!!

Registration Deadline: September 14 — NEW DATE!!!

Faculty: Dr. Cynthia Daley [Bio(opens in new window)] An introduction to management approaches that focus on the interactions and synergies of ecosystem processes (energy flow, water and nutrient cycles, and community dynamics) to leverage the power of photosynthesis to improve water use efficiency and soil health across a variety of agro-ecosystems using appropriate production practices. [Register now(opens in new window)]

Topics Include:

  • Introduction to systems management: challenging paradigms.
  • Processes and principles: Introduction to agroecosystems and soil health.
  • Minimizing soil disturbance: no-till, strip-till and more.
  • The benefits of biomass: cover crops and crop rotation.
  • Biological applications: the link between soil, plants, and animals.
  • Annual cropping systems (row crop; pasture).
  • Perennial cropping systems (rangelands; orchards; vineyards).
  • Incorporating and managing livestock through adaptive planned grazing.
  • Agroforestry systems (timber and grazing).
  • Economic view of systems management: short- and long-term ROI
  • Conservation through partnerships: opportunities and engaging effectively 
Soil Health Systems

Course Dates: Six weeks plus Thanksgiving week off, starting Oct 31, 2022.

Registration Deadline: October 24

Faculty: Dr. Garrett Liles [Bio(opens in new window)]

Understand the connection between soil health and primary productivity and, ultimately, food and fiber quality. This course will cover soil properties, metrics of soil health, and influences of production practices and soil management systems (integrated practices) on these components. Soil sampling, analysis and interpretation are presented, along with monitoring strategies to ensure on-farm success. [Register now(opens in new window)]

Topics Include:

  • Basics of soil health: degradation and restoration.
  • Organic matter: the living, the dead, and the very dead part of soil.
  • Physical nature of soils: the what, where, and how of soil formation and loss.
  • Soils and plants: biological, chemical, and physical property influences on plant health.
  • Nutrient management: considering source, rate, time, and place when using livestock and plant waste to build soil health.
  • Irrigation technology and management strategies.
  • Soil testing and monitoring: what and when.
Science & Practice of Ecological Forest and Range Management

Course Dates: Six weeks, starting Jan. 30, 2023
Registration Deadline: January 23

Faculty: Dr. Don Hankins [Bio(opens in new window)]

Explore innovative and practical approaches to sustainable and resilient stewardship of working lands and ecosystems with an emphasis on fire. Specific emphasis will highlight cultural considerations in grasslands, woodlands, and mixed conifer forests. [Register now(opens in new window)]

Topics Include:

  • History, science and policy of forest and rangeland management in the West.
  • High functioning ecological processes in well-managed forests: case studies from public and private lands.
  • Sustainable rangeland management: case studies from public and private lands.
  • Fire resiliency measures, methods & controlled burns in forest and rangeland ecosystems.
  • Fire recovery methods for land restoration incl. soil stabilization & improved water quality.
  • Grazing systems for working lands: processes, principles and practices.
  • Pollinators and wildlife habitat management.
  • Applied agroforestry and watershed management planning and design.
  • Applied management: sustainable rangeland and ecosystems planning and design.
Farm/Ranch Planning and Design

Course Dates: Six weeks, starting April 3, 2023

Registration Deadline: March 27

Faculty: Dr. Cynthia Daley [Bio(opens in new window)]

This course supports the transitional process to a plan, implement, monitor, replan management framework that encourages producers and ag professionals to work through a systems lens that addresses economic success and improved land health. Participants will develop a vision that incorporates management goals, establish a land management plan, and identify metrics to quantify outcomes and reassess their plan annually. [Register now(opens in new window)]

Topics Include:

  • Managing complex systems: establishing context to set goals with a vision.
  • Farm/ranch assessment: resources and inventories from the ground up.
  • Tools for enhancing resources within agroecosystems: a review of conservation practices and conservation effects.
  • Whole farm/ranch planning: enhancing resources and meeting goals.
  • The decision-making process: putting a conservation plan into action.
  • The carbon lens: evaluating a farm/ranch plan for GHG reduction and co-benefits.
  • Economic evaluation of farm/ranch plan.
  • Monitoring for adaptive management.
There is no application required but registration and fees should be submitted more than a week ahead of the start date. Click here to learn more and register now.