Regenerative Agriculture Technical Assistance Provider (TAP) Certification Program

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.

Photo of cows and grain silo at the Chico State FarmThe Center for Regenerative Agriculture and Resilient Systems (CRARS) at Chico State has developed this Technical Assistance Provider (TAP) Certification Program 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.

TAP Certification

Participants seeking the Regenerative Agriculture Technical Assistance Provider (TAP) Certification from CRARS must complete the 3 required courses and a minimum of 1 elective course.

Required Courses:

  • Regenerative Agriculture Systems: Theory and Practice [Read more]
  • Introduction to Soil Health Management [Read more]
  • Holistic Farm and Ranch Planning & Design [Read more]

Elective Courses:

  • Ecological Range Management and Adaptive Grazing [Read more]
  • Carbon Farm Planning with Carbon Cycle Institute (more info to come)
  • Pollinator Habitat [Read more]

Course Structure:

  • Fully online for flexibility and convenience
  • Weekly, live-online discussions with participants and faculty
  • Lectures and coursework (6-8 hours per week) completed at your own time and pace
  • Pass/No Pass quizzes to gauge your mastery of the content
  • Certificate of completion given at the end of each course 

If you are not seeking certification but are interested in the course topics, you may take one or more individual courses on a space available basis. Courses are recommended for those with strong agriculture background, those in graduate or undergraduate ag programs, and agricultural professionals providing assistance to producers. We suggest beginning with course #1, Regenerative Agriculture Systems: Theory and Practice, as a foundation for future learning. Course #1 is also important if you plan to take course #4, Holistic Farm and Ranching Planning & Design.

Fee:Register Today

  • $650 per course

Curriculum

Regenerative Agriculture Systems: Theory and PracticePhoto of tractor in a field at sunset.

Faculty: Dr. Cynthia Daley [Bio]

This course provides an introduction to regenerative agriculture management practices, with a focus on the interactions and synergies with ecosystem processes (energy flow, water, 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. [Learn More & Register]

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 

Ecological Range Management and Adaptive GrazingUp-close photo of cows looking into the camera.

Faculty: Wendell Gilgert [Bio]

This course will address whole ranch and grazing management planning and design with a focus on climate smart/regenerative practice implementation and assessment. [Learn More & Register]

Topics Include:

  • Ranch assessment: resources and inventories from the ground up.
  • Reading/Walking the land: enhancing Land Doctoring skills.
  • Whole ranch planning: enhancing resources and meeting goals.
  • The decision-making process: putting a conservation plan into action.
  • Tools for enhancing resources with grazing systems: a review of conservation practices and conservation effects.
  • Economic evaluation of ranch/grazing management plan – the cost of implementation.
  • Monitoring for adaptive management.
  • Funding and technical assistance sources.

Introduction to Soil Health ManagementPhoto of grass sprout being watered in the soil.

Faculty: Dr. Garrett Liles [Bio]

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. [Learn More & Register]

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.

Pollinator Habitat (Optional Elective)Photo of bee next to stem of lavender flowers.

Faculty: Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Boyd [Bio]

Learn about pollinators and building habitats to conserve them in agricultural systems. This course will provide tools to identify native pollinators and honeybees as well as explore the agricultural practices that enhance pollination services by these species. Topics will include the importance of establishing pollinator habitat including plant choice, hedgerows, cover crops, and other pollinator-friendly practices. [Learn More & Register]

Regenerative Forestry (Optional Elective)Photo of red wood trees in a forest.

Faculty: Dr. Cindy Prescott

The aim of regenerative forestry is to promote the abundance diversity and functioning of soil life that contributes to producing resilient forests. This can be accomplished through practices that promote the flux of carbon from plants to the belowground ecosystem. This course we will cover our current understanding of the diversity of life belowground in forest and the fluxes of plant carbon to the belowground ecosystem, and explore how forestry practices could be adapted to promote soil biodiversity and function. [Learn More & Register]

Whole Farm and Ranch Planning & DesignPhoto of harvester in a grain field.

Faculty: Dr. Cynthia Daley [Bio] & Lindsey Hethcote, MS [Bio]

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. [Learn More & Register]

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.

Program Faculty

Cindy DaleyDr. Cynthia Daley

Director and Co-founder of the Center for Regenerative Agriculture & Resilient Systems; Rawlins Endowed Professor for Environmental Literacy; Organic Dairy Program Supervisor; Professor, College of Agriculture

Dr. Cynthia Daley is a professor within the College of Agriculture at California State University, Chico, and currently serves as the Rawlin's Endowed Professor for Environmental Literacy, and the Director for the Center for Regenerative Agriculture & Resilient Systems.

Cindy is originally from Illinois, where her family has been actively engaged in the farming profession for more than four generations. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois, her doctorate at University of California Davis.

She joined the Chico State College of Agriculture faculty in 1997 and founded the Organic Dairy Education & Research Program in 2006. Seeing the need to grow the ecological farming movement, Daley went on to co-create the Regenerative Agriculture Initiative in 2016 and guided the program to Center status in May of 2019.

Garrett LilesPhoto of professor Garrett Liles

Associate Professor of Agriculture at California State University, Chico

Experiences at Chico State and in summer seasonal jobs were a springboard for Garrett Liles to seek a master’s in soil and watershed sciences from University of Washington, Seattle studying headwater streams and the effects of forest management on stream and soil properties, and a PhD from UC Davis studying soil organic matter and the effects of disturbance and management on the terrestrial Carbon Cycle. Dr. Liles has a diverse professional work history including mapping the soils of Lassen Park for NRCS, analysis and planning of regional biomass to energy projects, and quantifying the effects of riparian restoration at the Cosumnes River Preserve, along with years of running chainsaws, building trails, and managing natural resources.

Garrett joined the faculty of the Chico State College of Agriculture in 2015 as an assistant professor of soil and plant science where he teaches across the spectrum of soil and ecosystem science while mentoring students to be critical thinkers and educated citizens.

Wendell Gilgert

Wendell GilbertWendell was born and raised in Northern California on a fourth-generation family farm in eastern San Joaquin County. Heavily influenced by Aldo Leopold’s A Sand County Almanac, he began his career with the USDA Soil Conservation Service (now Natural Resources Conservation Service) in 1977 as a Soil Scientist. Then, for nearly twenty years, he worked as a Field Conservationist in Northwestern Nevada and Northern California.

He was Wildlife Biologist for the NRCS Wildlife Habitat Management Institute, as well as adjunct professor at Colorado State University and as NRCS California State Biologist. For the final years of his NRCS career he served as the West Region Wildlife Biologist in Portland, Oregon and NRCS National Wildlife Biologist in Washington D.C.

In June 2011, he retired from a 34-year career with NRCS and transitioned to work with the PRBO Conservation Science (now Point Blue Conservation Science) to initially direct their Rangeland Watershed Initiative, which is an effort to place, train, and manage partner biologists to help deliver USDA Farm Bill Programs on private land and cultivate Leopoldian Land Stewards through their Working Lands Initiative. He retired from Point Blue at the end of 2020. He stays active by continued training and mentoring Point Blue Partner Biologists, as a private consultant, as a Board Member for Wild Farm Alliance, Science Advisory Member for Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, and Member of CalCAN Science and Technical Advisory Council.

Wendell has written and co-authored numerous publications and given hundreds of presentations on stewardship, management, land health, and restoration of western working ranch and farm lands to benefit a wide range of fish and wildlife including, shorebirds, waterfowl, neo-tropical migratory birds, bats, herptofauna, native pollinators, and other invertebrates, while at the same time keeping those working lands operations productive and stewardship focused. Click here to read more.

Dr. Betsy Boyd

Professor of Agriculture at California State University, Chico

Photo of Dr. Betsy BoydDr. Elizabeth “Betsy” A. Boyd has been a professor at the CSU, Chico College of Agriculture since 2008. Dr. Boyd obtained her BS in entomology from Washington State University (WSU) in 2000. After graduation she continued her education at WSU, where she earned an MS in entomology, majoring in biological control in 2002. Her thesis was titled “Life History and Impact Assessment of Nanophyes marmoratus Goeze on Lythrum salicaria L.”

After completing her MS, Dr. Boyd entered the doctoral degree program at University of California, Riverside, where she earned a PhD in entomology with a biological control major, integrated pest management minor, and behavior outside minor. Her dissertation was titled “Retroactive Host Specificity Testing, Biology, and Ecology of Sharpshooters (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae) and Egg-Parasitoids (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae) in California.”

Since completing her PhD, Dr. Boyd has remained active in research. She was employed by the University of California, Berkeley as a postdoctoral scholar in the K.M. Daane laboratory located at the Kearney Agricultural Research Center from June 2007 to August 2008. While there she researched vine mealybug (VMB) biological control, VMB biology and ecology, and VMB mating disruption.

Her current research focus is to investigate potential management tactics that can be implemented in Integrated Management Programs for cropping systems throughout the world. Over the last ten years Dr. Boyd has investigated the biology, ecology, and novel management of navel orangeworm, the role of Psocoptera in almonds and pistachios, and the novel management and geospatial mapping of codling moth and walnut husk fly. She is currently co-authoring a book on entomophagy (eating insects) and runs an annual event where students try cooking with, and eating, insects. She is proud to share that all of these projects have involved undergraduate and graduate student researchers. She regularly updates students, growers, and professionals with current research in class, at local grower meetings, and at professional conferences.

Mollie AschenbrenerPhoto of Mollie Aschenbrener

Professor and Lead Teacher Educator & Graduate Coordinator for the College of Agriculture, California State University, Chico

After teaching agricultural science at Paso Robles High School for eleven years, Mollie left to attend the University of Missouri. She completed her doctorate in agricultural education and my research interests include teacher education, creativity and effective teaching, and leadership. Mollie grew up in Oregon where she was very involved in the FFA program. After spending one year in the rain at Oregon State, she transferred to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, where she earned her bachelor's degree in agricultural business and my master's degree in agricultural education. 

Lindsey HethcoteLindsey Hethcote

Conservation Project Coordinator

Lindsey Hethcote, originally from St. Louis, Missouri, is currently the Conservation Project Coordinator for CRARS. After graduating from the University of Denver with a B.A. in Environmental Science, Lindsey spent time in the States and in Peru working in environmental education and protection and community development. Her year in Peru reignited the passion for ecological agriculture that she originally discovered while taking an undergraduate course in Nicaragua, so she then made the move to Turrialba, Costa Rica to earn her M.S. in in Agroforestry and Sustainable Agriculture from Centro Agronomico Tropical de Invertigacion y Ensenanza (CATIE). During her two years at CATIE, Lindsey worked with various farmers of different types of production systems to integrate agrobiodiversity into the systems and measure the social, ecological and economic results. After leaving Costa Rica, Lindsey returned to Missouri where she worked managing an organic elderberry farm and later as an Agronomy and Horticulture Specialist for the University of Missouri Extension. Before coming to CRARS, Lindsey spent 4 years at the Education Director on an organic, diversified farm in Tecate, Mexico where she developed curriculum and led student groups, as well as helped managed farm production.

Lindsey is very excited to bring her broad base of experience in education, outreach, marketing, producer assistance and production management to CRARS where she will be supporting several regenerative agriculture projects. In her free time, Lindsey enjoys hiking with her pups, biking and exploring the great outdoors!