Growing Grant Writing and Management Capacity with WV Ag Service Providers to Support Our Ag Community

Final report for NEWVSU17-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $16,664.00
Funds awarded in 2018: $16,664.00
Funds awarded in 2019: $16,664.00
Projected End Date: 10/31/2020
Grant Recipient: West Virginia State University
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
State Coordinator:
Barbara E. Liedl
West Virginia State University
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Project Information

Summary:

During a needs assessment survey, producers identified "accessing funding opportunity/grant writing" as a top need while Agricultural Service Providers (ASP) listed no intention of providing any programming in this area.  Coupled with the problem of personnel turnover in agriculture agencies and an increase in community-based organizations providing agriculture service there was a striking lack of service providers with the skill sets to work with producers to access funding and write successful grants.  This professional development program was created to train service providers on how to research an idea, write a successful proposal, and manage a funded project as well as to work with others (producers and/or agencies/organizations) to develop grant proposals.  One key learning from our first training was realizing the use of a “mock grant panel” was critical to introducing grants to a group that has no experience in writing or reviewing them.  The diversity of the group, traditional Agricultural Service Providers as well as Conservation District personnel, demonstrated how different people on a grant panel can read the same proposal differently which led to lively discussion and highlighted that you need to know who your audience is and consider that when submitting a proposal.  Three service providers involved in our training have successfully acquired four grants totaling $107,076.  Two of these service providers were awarded their first grant, and an additional 4 service providers supported 4 farmers in preparing or submitting their own funding proposals.

We have seen increased interest in farmer grant programs as a result of this project and hope to see more successfully funded grants both for the farmers as well as our West Virginia service providers.

Performance Target:

24 agricultural service providers (ASPs) who gain practical knowledge and skills in identifying and assessing funding opportunities, researching, developing and reviewing a proposal, managing and reporting on a funded project, effective adult learning, building partnerships and strategic planning will confidently design and deliver related educational programs/services, including but not limited to workshops, webinars, educational materials, individual consultations and mentoring to 60 producers. 12 of the ASPs will submit a grant application to address a sustainable agriculture concern either individually or in collaboration with others.

Introduction:

This program provides an educational program and support network for West Virginia (WV) agriculture service providers (ASPs), focused on topics identified by ASPs and producers to support sustainable agriculture: grant research, writing and management. This will strengthen WV´s agribusinesses, improve local foods systems, increase rural development, and build long-term partnerships among ASPs, producing significant service and learning multiplier effects.

A needs assessment in 2013-2014 (51 ASPs and 136 producers) revealed some disparity between ASP’s perceptions of and producers’ actual level of adoption of sustainable agriculture practices in WV.  There is general agreement between the groups about general factors limiting producer’s adoption of sustainable agricultural practices.  However, the fourth highest discrepancy (out of 27) for our producers is “accessing funding opportunities/grant writing” (Singh-Knights, Knights and Liedl, 2015).  The three higher gaps are being addressed by the Northeast SARE State Program "NEWVU17-001 Enhancing the Viability and Profitability of Direct Sales and Agritourism Agripreneurs through Education, Clustering and Networking Opportunities" or conservation agencies in our state (NRCS & WVCA). 

New non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and community-based organizations (CBOs) working with producers have arisen in our state.  However, those hired to work with producers lack grant research, writing and management experience even though they are asked to provide that assistance for their clients.  Both Northeast SARE, WV state coordinators (Liedl and Singh-Knights) and a colleague in the WV Department of Agriculture (Martel) have been providing grant writing training, separate from the outreach for the Northeast SARE grant program, across the state over the last three years for various clients including ASPs, growers, NGOs and CBOs.  However, we are not seeing an increase in agriculture service providers or producers applying for funding opportunities, participating in grant reviews or investigating partnership possibilities among themselves or with ASPs or their agencies.  Further, the few proposals being submitted to grant agencies by producers, communities, NGOs and CBOs often do not address the focus of the funding agency or the questions being asked for applications. Properly justified budgets are also a problem. These deficiencies limit funds coming into or staying in our state; funds that could be used to address sustainable agriculture ideas or issues our agriculture service providers, producers or communities want to pursue. 

Few if any of the WV ASPs working directly with producers have a complete knowledge in grant research, writing and management. This 3-year project will provide training to ASPs in grant research, writing and management with hands-on experience and materials. ASPs will improve their grant skills and acquire the knowledge and instructional materials needed to train their clients on grant writing.  The program is targeted to ASPs with diverse expertise from across the agencies and communities working in the WV agricultural landscape.  The team will be led by Liedl with Singh-Knights and Martel as key personnel to do the majority of the training with support from WVSU and WVU Offices of Sponsored Programs and groups/individuals who have been successful obtaining grant funding.  We anticipate delivering a comprehensive hands-on team-based educational program that will raise the knowledge and skill sets of a broad group of ASPs to provide better service to WV producers and improve business, community and agency partnerships. 

Advisors/Cooperators

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Dr. Doolarie Singh-Knights

Educational Approach

Educational approach:
  • An introductory GoToMeeting webinar introduced the overall 3-year PDP project, and annual training topics, schedule and format, and participation requirements. This session was also recorded to send to potential participants that could not attend the online session.
  • A focus group was used in Yr. 1 to identify specific sustainable agriculture needs and concerns for WV agriculture that could be met thru grant funded projects. A 2nd focus group will be held in Yr. 2 to evaluate the program and sustainable agriculture needs prior Yr. 3 training.
  • A Dropbox folder is being used for sharing of project materials (curriculum materials; slide presentations; templates, worksheets and decision tools to use with clients; and verification surveys to use in their own education programs.); and to serve as a repository for the participants to share resources.
  • Face-to-face workshops (3 in Yr. 1, 1 in Yr. 2, 3 in Yr. 3) were conducted as described in the milestones activities, with some potential modifications in topics in year 3, based on participant feedback at the end of Yr. 2.
  • Progress-update webinars as per milestones to allow questions, challenges and successes were shared using GoToMeeting and were recorded and shared via Dropbox repository as a shared resource.
  • Travel funds and stipends will support beneficiaries' learning and follow-up action in Years 2 and 3, and the project team was available by phone, e-mail and in-person for consultation and assistance.

Milestones

Milestone #1 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

1) 100 ASPs (based on existing list serves/mailing lists) will receive notification about the 3-year project, including learning objectives and performance target, the trainings to be offered, and expectations for participants. The ASPs will also receive an invitation to join a focus group with a small group of farmer leaders representing crop and livestock production enterprises to identify specific sustainable agriculture needs and concerns for WV agriculture that could be met through grant-funded projects.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
100
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
22
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
December 15, 2017
Accomplishments:

22 people at a variety of agencies and organizations were contacted via emails and phone calls to recruit participants to the “Growing Grant Writing and Management Capacity” Training Opportunity for Agriculture Service Providers (ASPs) in West Virginia.  People and their supervisors at agencies and organizations contacted included:  WVSU Extension Service, WVU Extension Service, WV Department of Agriculture, WV Conservation Agency, NRCS, WV Food and Farm Coalition, WV Farmers Market Association, Value Cluster 2, Sprouting Farms and Refresh Appalachia.  There is no one who had a list of all the ASPs or agencies/organizations involved in agriculture in the state to use as a contact list and often the contact information that was available was out of date, which made broader outreach difficult.  

Milestone #2 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

2) 36 ASPs attend introductory webinar to learn more details about the project, including how participants can include this project in their annual plan of work, details of curriculum and timelines.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
36
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
20
Proposed Completion Date:
November 30, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
April 26, 2018
Accomplishments:

This webinar was held via GoToMeeting and was recorded to allow it to be sent out to others who were unable to join.  It was difficult to find a date and time that everyone could attend the webinar which made the recording feature very helpful.  The webinar covered background and experience of the state coordinator in grant writing, management and training.  Next we covered why this was chosen as a topic for ASP training as a NE SARE state project and how the state PDP program works in NE SARE.  Then the layout of the four trainings along with homework was reviewed and finished with the expectations for the participants in this program.  Homework to complete before the first training was also listed but details were sent out after the webinar via an email.  

Milestone #3 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

3) 24 ASPs attend focus group with farmer leaders on identifying specific sustainable agriculture needs and concerns for WV agriculture that may be suitable for grant-funded projects. We will use this group to define at least 6 sustainable agriculture needs/concerns with potential for grant funding opportunities, and a list of additional people/groups that should be contacted for more information and for potential collaborations.
a. Introductions and Purpose
b. Ground rules
c. WV Sustainable Agriculture Needs Assessment Results
d. Focus Group Questions
i. What are some of your thoughts on sustainable agriculture in West Virginia?
ii. Ask each participant to identify three sustainable agriculture needs or concerns they would like to be addressed?
iii. Provide each participant 3 dots to rank their top needs or concerns on the list developed.
iv. Compile the needs or concerns in participant ranked order.
v. Does this list of needs or concerns we have identified cover sustainable agriculture issues in West Virginia?
vi. Is this an adequate summary of important needs or concerns for WV sustainable agriculture?
vii. What groups and/or who should be involved in addressing the identified needs or concerns?
e. Wrap Up and Next Steps
i. Have we missed anything?
ii. Asking the focus group to help in recruiting ASPs for the ‘Growing Grant Writing and Management Capacity with WV Ag Service Providers to Support Our Ag Community’ training

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
24
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
17
Proposed Completion Date:
December 31, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
May 17, 2018
Accomplishments:

Due to scheduling difficulties we ran the focus group at the beginning of the first training for the participants.  This was a good ice breaker for the group which covered a wide range of agencies that have not always worked together at the table.  The highest rated topics were 1) having markets where products can get sold, 2) access to capital and 3) longer range planning that included business planning, record keeping and was holistic in approach.  There were several items that came as a secondary clump and included:  education from farmers and agencies to consumers, access to materials and technical assistance, access to technology and education to policy makers.  

Milestone #4 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

4) 12 ASPs enroll in ‘Growing Grant Writing and Management Capacity with WV Ag Service Providers to Support Our Ag Community’ training. Provide the ASPs the Focus Group Results to review before the first training.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
22
Proposed Completion Date:
December 31, 2017
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
March 15, 2018
Accomplishments:

By mid March the group of participants was finalized with twenty-two applying.  Rather than removing people that applied it was decided to allow natural attrition to reduce the number to closer to the twelve that was originally planned.  The group included the following agencies/organizations with number of people in parentheses:  WVU Extension Service (1), WV Conservation Agency (6), WV Department of Agriculture (10), WV Food and Farm Coalition (2) and WV Farmers Market Association (3).  

Milestone #5 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

5) Participate in Training 1 – A one-day Funding Opportunities 101 workshop conducted by project team and independent consultants in one location. Participants learn about the following topics:
a. What is a grant? Who gives out grants?
b. What is an Eligible Entity?
c. What is in an RFA/RFP? Where to look for RFAs/RFPs?
d. Who is involved in Sustainable Agriculture in WV? What are they doing?
i. WV Needs Assessment Results
ii. Focus Group Results
e. Developing an idea into a fundable project
f. Identifying and recruiting partners, technical advisors, cooperators and/or collaborators
Homework:
a. Identify at least one RFA/RFP to use in developing a proposal for this project. If one is not identified the ASP will be given the Partnership RFA from NE SARE to use.
b. Identify a sustainable agriculture subgroup you are interested in working with (i.e. high tunnels, sheep, value added, etc.). Identify the people/organizations in the state that are working in this area, what are they doing currently and what are their problems?
c. Identify an idea of a project using a problem from your subgroup to develop into a proposal.
d. Complete research for the idea for your proposal to develop.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
17
Proposed Completion Date:
March 31, 2018
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
May 17, 2018
Accomplishments:

Fifteen people attended the all day training in Sutton, WV at the Elk Conservation District Conference Center.  Two additional people had problems and could not attend but alerted the trainer.  Five others did not contact the trainer and will be told they can attend the second round of training following this training.  The location was near the center of the state and made it easier for some our participants coming from several hours away to attend.  Each participant was given a binder with the presentations and handouts for this first training as well as a SARE thumb drive that had the same items electronically as well as additional supplemental materials. 

The day started off by holding a focus group task on sustainable agriculture as an ice breaker.  We also started identifying different organizations, agencies and groups that could be used as partners and collaborators in applying for grant projects.  It was also noted that the lack of a list of these groups and their contact people made it difficult at time for ASPs to know who to contact or even if anyone was out there working on an area for them to be able to contact.  More information from the Sustainable Agriculture Needs Assessment completed in 2015 was provided to the group with discussion about those outcomes versus the focus group exercise that was just done. 

Next the group was lead thru a discussion of learning styles using their results from doing two learning styles assessments prior to the meeting. The workshop then moved into a presentation called "Grants 101" which included information on what a grant is, what is an RFA/RFP, what is an eligible entity and where to look for RFA/RFPs.  The final session was presentation and discussion about developing an idea into a fundable project and checking to see if that fits into the mission of the agency/organization that put out the RFA/RFP. 

We concluded with assigning homework for the participants to

1) identify at least one RFA/RFP to use in developing a proposal for this project,

2) Identify a sustainable agriculture topic as well as people/organizations that could be useful in developing this proposal,

3) identify an idea for this topic area and

4) complete research on the idea. 

Milestone #6 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

6) After Training 1: 12 ASPs participate in group conference calls or individual calls about their homework progress and new questions or issues have may have arisen after the trainings. Following this check-in, participants also receive an email FAQ that summarizes any questions and concerns raised, answers to questions and/or new information.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
8
Proposed Completion Date:
April 30, 2018
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
August 24, 2018
Accomplishments:

Several of the training group contacted the project leader directly with questions related to grants they were considering applying for in the near future.  It was also hard to get ahold of participants during the summer as everyone was busy.  We had confirmation that people were finding RFAs and that they were coming to the Sept 5th training.  

Milestone #7 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

7) 12 ASPs participate in an online webinar with the project team to discuss progress and evaluate the project to date.
a. Discuss the plans for Year 2 of the project.
b. Each ASP discusses their identified sustainable agriculture projects during the first year training and research to ascertain if they will continue in this area.
c. Involve the group in identifying new or additional granting agencies and/or partners for each of the ASPs grant projects
d. Address any questions and concerns and share any new information/resources

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
13
Proposed Completion Date:
August 31, 2018
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
September 5, 2018
Accomplishments:

This was accomplished during the 2nd training on September 5, 2018. 

Milestone #8 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

8) 12 ASPs participate in Training 2 – a one-day How to Develop a Proposal workshop, conducted by project team. Participants bring the RFA/RFP they identified and learn about the following topics:
a. Reading and pulling out pertinent Information from RFA
b. Developing your idea and aligning with the RFA
c. Creating a budget and budget narrative
d. Selling your idea in the proposal
e. Filling out the forms
f. Brainstorm and create actions plans for how to use this information with clients.
Homework:
a. Using the identified RFA write the proposal, create a budget and budget narrative and identify the other forms you need to have completed and who needs to sign them.
b. Identify partners (ASPs, farmers, organizations and associations) and solicit their input.
c. Submit this to the project leader by the end of April for the group to have a panel review.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
13
Proposed Completion Date:
March 31, 2018
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
September 5, 2018
Accomplishments:

Thirteen people attended the all day training in Sutton, WV at the Elk Conservation District Conference Center.  We had two leave the trainings after the first session as they were no longer ASPs.  Four others withdrew due to work or personal reasons. Each participant was given information to add to their binder with the presentations and handouts from the first training as well as files to update their SARE thumb drive. 

The group went thru a discussion as well as an activity to find information you need to write a grant from an RFA.  Then we discussed aligning their idea with the RFA goals or objectives.  During lunch we discussed how to create a budget and budget narrative along with doing an interactive budget online with an excel spreadsheet.  Then we discussed how to write your proposal with examples provided. 

The final presentation was on "Don't Forget the Nuts and Bolts" before we wrapped up "Brainstorming and Creating Action Plans".  We concluded with assigning homework for the participants to:

1) write a narrative using their identified RFA,

2) Create a budget and budget narrative for the proposal,

3) fill out other forms necessary,

4) identify partners and solicit their input and

5) submit the proposal to the project leader before the next training. 

Milestone #9 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

1) October 2018: The project team will contact the 12 ASPs via a conference call or individual phone calls about their homework progress and new questions or issues that have may have arisen after the second training. Following this check-in, participants also receive an email FAQ that summarizes any questions and concerns raised, answers to questions and/or new information.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2018
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
December 12, 2018
Accomplishments:

The trainer contacted the participants via phone calls and emails to follow up with their homework from the second training.  A reminder email was also sent requesting the participants to provide the RFA they were working to develop a grant proposal for the next training.  

Milestone #10 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

2) November 2018: 12 ASPs receive grants to review at the third training as a “panel member”. We will use proposals developed by the ASPs as well as other redacted proposals requested from agencies represented by the selected RFPs.
Homework:
a. Review assigned proposals
b. Prepare to be primary reviewer for assigned proposal(s) at Training 3

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
November 30, 2018
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
January 31, 2019
Accomplishments:

  Only one of the twelve participants provided a draft of an RFA to use for the third training.  Thus, the trainer provided the participants an RFA and redacted copies of three proposals for them to read prior to the 3rd training to participate in a "mock grant panel" in February 2019.  

Milestone #11 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

3) January 2019: 12 ASPs participate in Training 3 – a one-day Evaluating a Proposal and Managing a Project workshop conducted by project team and independent consultants in two locations. Participants will learn about:
a. Reviewing proposals – mock grant panel
b. What to do once you get funded?
c. What to do if you don’t get funded?
d. Writing reports?
e. Review of the grant writing and managing cycle
f. Brainstorm and create action plans for how to use this information with clients.
Homework:
a. Write a proposal summary for proposals assigned as primary reviewer.
b. Reassess their proposal with the review summary and individual reviews and evaluate the future of pursuing the development of this project.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
8
Proposed Completion Date:
January 31, 2019
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
February 19, 2019
Accomplishments:

Eight people attended the all day training in Sutton, WV at the Elk Conservation District Conference Center.  Each participant came with the reviews of three grant proposal to participate in a "mock grant panel".  Prior to the training the participants sent their filled out review sheets to the trainer so she could compile the numbers to share with the group during the training.  Participants were assigned roles for each grant to be the primary (leading off the review), secondary (follow the primary) and tertiary (adds anything missed by the primary and secondary).  The trainer acted as the panel manager during the session.  A lively discussion of the three proposals by the group debating the merits and shortcomings of each proposal individually.  Just as what is found within a grant panel, the group found that your experience and training provides a different view than other reviewers.  It also allowed them to learn and grow by listening to their colleagues.  Means for the numeric scores was provided after discussion for all three proposal was shared with the group after they ranked the three and made their suggestions on what they would propose funding and why.  

During lunch, the group did a debriefing of the "mock grant panel" activity and the training so to date.  The group strongly urged the trainer to consider revising the training order and move the "mock grant panel" up to the second training workshop before going into details about grants.  They stated they had a better idea of what a grant was and wasn't by reading over them for the mock grant panel since the majority of the participants had ever written or reviewed grants prior to this training.   

The remainder of the workshop was spent on discussion, what to do if they got funded and what to do if they didn't get funded.  We ended with talking about using this grant training with clients and creating their own action plans.  The trainer also spent some time afterwards talking with a couple of participants on grants they were in the process of writing.  

Milestone #12 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

4) April 2019: 12 ASPs participate in Training 4 – a one-day Effective Adult Learning workshop conducted by project team and independent consultants in one location. Participants learn about the following topics:
a. Defining your audience and purpose
b. Types of learning
c. Choosing instructional methods
d. How to facilitate
e. Why evaluation and verification is important for training and grant writing

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
April 30, 2019
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

Time constraints for the trainer and the trainees have delayed this into 2021, but will be updated once it is completed.  

Milestone #13 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

5) May 2019: The project team will contact the 12 ASPs monthly via a conference call or individual phone calls on their grant writing progress and new questions or concerns that may have arisen since the meeting in August. Based on identified sustainable agriculture projects by ASPs during the first year training and research, additional subgroup meetings will be supported with the project team either in person or electronically to support grant writing of ASPs with partners (farmers, organizations and/or associations). Following this check-in, participants also receive an email FAQ that summarizes any questions and concerns raised, answers to questions and/or new information. (Oct 2018-Aug 2019)

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
8
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
6
Proposed Completion Date:
May 31, 2019
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
August 31, 2020
Accomplishments:

Due to commitments for the trainees and trainer and COVID-19, the ASPs were contacted via email and phone to see where they were.  The great news is that one participant received his first grant working on conservation issues and was so excited that he and his agency are looking at other opportunities.  In addition, another participant was key in writing a grant that got a Northeast SARE partnership grant for their organization.  These small successes will be shared with this group of ASPs as well as the next group that will start in 2020.  

Milestone #14 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

6) June 2019: 12 trained ASPs will be invited to partner with the program team as peer mentors in Yr. 3 training of new ASPs. The 12 trained ASPs will also receive updated materials and offered funds to support their planning and development of future grant writing trainings they will conduct. (Nov 2018-Aug 2019)

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
August 31, 2019
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

The call for participants was sent to contacts and/or their supervisors at ten agencies/NGOs in the state to recruit people: WVSU Extension Service, WVU Extension Service, WV Department of Agriculture, WV Conservation Agency, NRCS, WV Food and Farm Coalition, WV Farmers Market Association, Value Cluster 2, Experience Learning and Future Generations University.  In addition, people who expressed interest in the program but were unable to participate with the first group were also contacted.  There is no one who has a list of all the ASPs or agencies/organizations involved in agriculture in the state to use as a contact list and often the contact information that was available was out of date, which made broader outreach difficult.   However, we also asked any of the original participants to share the information as well to colleagues.  

Milestone #15 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

7) August 2019: 12 trained ASPs participate in person as part of a focus group on the first two years of this professional development project and what other steps needed to be done to address specific sustainable agriculture needs and concerns for WV agriculture through grant funded projects. Additional representation from other organizations and associations will be invited as part of the focus group (up to 12). This focus group will be facilitated by an independent consultant in on location along with the project team. We will also address the types and groups the trained ASPs will focusing on doing grant writing trainings for in year 3 as well as any grant writing projects they are involved in that we can support in the area of sustainable agriculture.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
August 31, 2019
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

Due to delays in starting the project this was postponed and then we ran into COVID-19 restrictions.  We are still unable to meet other than online and most of us are over "zoomed".

Milestone #16 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

1) October 2019: 50 ASPs not involved in the first two years, including new hires in organizations will receive notification about the project, including learning objectives and performance target, the trainings to be offered, and expectations for participants.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
50
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
30
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2019
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
November 8, 2019
Accomplishments:

Emails and phone calls were made to supervisors of agricultural service providers and various NGOs to recruit a new class of trainees.  Also the previous trainees were also told that a new training was going to be rolling out and if they knew of anyone to attend then they should send them the information.   Since then additional contacts have asked for the information and application.  

Milestone #17 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

2) October 2019: 36 ASPs participants attend introductory webinar to learn more details about the project including how participants can include this project in their annual plan of work, and more details on curriculum and timelines.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
24
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
36
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
24
Proposed Completion Date:
October 31, 2019
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
January 29, 2021
Accomplishments:

Instead of doing this as a conference call (zoom meeting), this was done informally over the phone or via emails to lessen zoom fatigue which everyone is feeling during COVID-19

Milestone #18 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

3) November 2019: 12 new ASPs enroll in ‘Growing Grant Writing and Management Capacity with WV Ag Service Providers to Support Our Ag Community’ training.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Actual number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who participated:
10
Proposed Completion Date:
November 30, 2019
Status:
Completed
Date Completed:
January 31, 2020
Accomplishments:

A new group was recruited with 10 agricultural service providers that could be geographically divided into two groups for in-person training from four organizations.  

Milestone #19 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

4) January 2020: 12 new ASPs participate in Training 1 – A one-day funding Opportunities 101 workshop conducted by project team and independent consultants in a central location of the state. Learning objectives and homework for participants will be as described in Year 1 Milestone 7.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
January 31, 2020
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

This was scheduled for March 2020 and was cancelled due to COVID-19.  We are looking to reschedule and do the training online.  In addition others have asked to be included and since this can be done online we anticipate having from 12-18 involved.  The one other issue has been the time taken to revise the training so none of the trainings are more than 3-4 hrs long due to zoom fatigue.  Also working in more interactive segments to keep the group focused.  This has taken more time than anticipated but will allow the training to be used longer and be able to serve more participants.  

Milestone #20 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

5) February 2020: 12 new ASPs check in with the project team on their homework progress and new questions or concerns that may have arisen after the first training. Following this check-in, participants also receive an email FAQ that summarizes any questions and concerns raised, answers to questions and/or new information.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
February 29, 2020
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

This was scheduled for Spring/Summer 2020 and was cancelled due to COVID-19.  We are looking to reschedule and do the training online in 6-8 segments rather than 4 full days of training to lessen Zoom fatigue.  

Milestone #21 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

6) March 2020: 12 new ASPs participate in Training 2 - a one-day How to Develop a Proposal workshop, conducted by project team and independent consultants in a central location of the state. Learning objectives and homework for participants will be as described in Year 1 Milestone 9.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
March 31, 2020
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

This was scheduled for Spring/Summer 2020 and was cancelled due to COVID-19.  We are looking to reschedule and do the training online in 6-8 segments rather than 4 full days of training to lessen Zoom fatigue.  

Milestone #22 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

7) April 2020: 12 new ASPs check in with the project team about their homework progress and new questions or concerns that may have arisen after the first training. Following this check-in, participants also receive an email FAQ that summarizes any questions and concerns raised, answers to questions and/or new information.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
April 30, 2020
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

This was scheduled for Spring/Summer 2020 and was cancelled due to COVID-19.  We are looking to reschedule and do the training online in 6-8 segments rather than 4 full days of training to lessen Zoom fatigue.  

Milestone #23 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

8) May 2020: 12 new ASPs receive grants to review at the third training as a “panel member”. We will use proposals developed by the ASPs as well as other redacted proposals requested from agencies involved.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
May 31, 2020
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

This was scheduled for Spring/Summer 2020 and was cancelled due to COVID-19.  We are looking to reschedule and do the training online in 6-8 segments rather than 4 full days of training to lessen Zoom fatigue.  

Milestone #24 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

9) June 2020: 12 new ASPs participate in Training 3 – a one-day Evaluating a Proposal and Managing a Project workshop conducted by project team and independent consultants in a central location. Learning objectives for participants will be as described in Year 1 Milestone 12.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
June 30, 2020
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

This was scheduled for Spring/Summer 2020 and was cancelled due to COVID-19.  We are looking to reschedule and do the training online in 6-8 segments rather than 4 full days of training to lessen Zoom fatigue.  

Milestone #25 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

10) August 2020: The project team will contact the 12 ASPs monthly via a conference call or individual phone calls 12 trained with the project team on their grant writing progress and new questions or concerns that may have arisen since the meeting in August. Based on identified sustainable agriculture projects by ASPs during the first year training and research, additional subgroup meetings will be supported with the project team either in person or electronically to support grant writing of ASPs with partners (farmers, organizations and/or associations). Following this check-in, participants also receive an email FAQ that summarizes any questions and concerns raised, answers to questions and/or new information. (Oct 2019-Aug 2020)

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
August 31, 2020
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

This was scheduled for Spring/Summer 2020 and was cancelled due to COVID-19.  We are looking to reschedule and do the training online in 6-8 segments rather than 4 full days of training to lessen Zoom fatigue.  

Milestone #26 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

11) August, 2020: All ASP participants respond to Year 3 evaluations and verification surveys about overall project effectiveness and farmers impacts.

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
24
Proposed Completion Date:
August 31, 2020
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

Delayed due to COVID-19 and the completion of the 2nd group of trainees.

Milestone #27 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

12) September 2020: 12 trained ASPs will have the option to work with the program staff as peer mentors for the new round of grant writing trainings. They will also receive updates and materials to support their learning and planning and development of grant writing trainings they will conduct for growers and other ASPs. (Oct 2019-Sept 2020)

Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
12
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2020
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

Delayed due to COVID-19.

Milestone #28 (click to expand/collapse)
What beneficiaries do and learn:

13) September 2020: 20 trained ASPs and 20 selected stakeholders, enroll and attend a project focus group workshop to discuss the progress, evaluate the success of the project and identify future steps to improve grant writing success for sustainable agriculture projects in WV.

Proposed number of farmer beneficiaries who will participate:
20
Proposed number of agriculture service provider beneficiaries who will participate:
20
Proposed Completion Date:
September 30, 2020
Status:
Incomplete
Accomplishments:

This has been postponed until we can get the 2nd group of trainees completed and have the ability to meet again in person.  

Milestone Activities and Participation Summary

Educational activities conducted by the project team:

ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Consultations 10 15 6 31
Study circle / focus groups 1 0 0 1
Webinars, talks and presentations 8 5 2 15
Workshop / field days 2 2 1 5

Beneficiaries who particpated in the project’s educational activities and events:

AudienceYear 1Year 2Year 3Total Individuals
Extension 1 3 2 5
NRCS 0 2 0 2
Nonprofit 5 5 3 8
Agency 16 14 4 20

Participation Summary:

35 Number of agricultural educator or service providers reached through education and outreach activities

Learning Outcomes

15 Agricultural service providers reported changes in knowledge, skills and/or attitudes as a result of their participation.
15 Ag service providers intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned through this project in their educational activities and services for farmers
Key areas in which the service providers (and farmers if indicated above) reported a change in knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness::

The major changes in knowledge and skills of the agricultural service providers was in their ability to submit a grant proposal themselves or as part of a team. A few were able to obtain grant funds both from SARE and also from other agencies. In addition, many of the first cohort recruited for the second cohort both in their own and other agencies. The methods used were follow up phone calls and emails with the trainees.

Performance Target Outcomes

Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers

Activities for farmers conducted by service providers:
ActivityYear 1Year 2Year 3Total
Consultations 0 4 0 4
12 Total number of agricultural service provider participants who used knowledge and skills learned through this project (or incorporated project materials) in their educational activities, services, information products and/or tools for farmers
4 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Performance target outcome for service providers narrative:

12 service providers were requested to provide information but only 4 provided the requested information.  In all four cases the service providers worked with farmers directly in providing education on evaluating their potential for a grant opportunity, helped them in developing the grant proposal, writing and submitting the proposal.  In some cases, this has taken over a year which makes it difficult to determine numbers.  However, we are seeing a rise in successful grant proposals to Northeast SARE in the last year which reflects well on the project.  There is also a request to continue the grant writing and management training for agriculture service providers as not everyone could take part and also we have new service providers.  Part of the reason for low numbers is due to several who have left their positions after the trainings completed as well as the problems that have arisen with COVID-19 which has limited our ability to provider in person programming.  Within West Virginia, it is also challenging to provide online training due to the poor internet service in rural areas.  

Among Northeast states, West Virginia ranks 3rd with the largest number of farms and amount of farmland. Yet, according to the Northeast SARE Grants Portfolio Review, June, 2019, West Virginia has received only 3% of the total funding awarded by Northeast SARE over time. Fortunately, we have seen a rise in successful grant proposals to Northeast SARE in the last few years, and we are proud to support West Virginia farmers and service providers in securing more funding (Table 1).

 

Table 1. Number and percent of Northeast SARE competitive grants awarded in West Virginia over this project period

 

2017

2018

2019

2020

# awarded in all Northeast States

70

88

118

105

# awarded in West Virginia

3

1

5

7

% awarded to West Virginia

4%

1%

4%

7%

 

Performance Target Outcomes - Farmers

Additional Project Outcomes

Number of grants applied for that built upon this project:
Year 1Year 2Year 3Total
0 2 2 4
Number of grants received that built upon this project:
Year 1Year 2Year 3Total
0 2 2 4
Dollar amount of grants received:
Year 1Year 2Year 3Total
$0 $30567 $76509 $107076
Number of new working collaborations:
Year 1Year 2Year 3Total
0 2 1 3
Additional Outcomes Narrative:

Year 2 Grants Submitted: 2 new grant proposals were submitted (totaling $30,567), listed below. Both of these represent organizations new to writing grants and organizations writing to new grant programs.

  • Moss, Spencer (PI). NE-SARE Partnership. $29,067. 1/31/2019-2/28/2021.  “Implementing Beginning Farmer Training in Geographic Areas via WV Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training”—FUNDED
  • Young, Russel (PI). WV American Water 2019 Environmental Grant Program.  $1,500.  “Elk Conservation District’s Trees for Kids Program”—FUNDED

Year 3 Grants Submitted: 2 new grant proposals were submitted (totaling $76,509), listed below. Both of these represent a organization new to working with NE SARE.

  • Rechlin, Michael (PI).  NE-SARE Partnership. $26,685.  -7-31-2021.  "Advancing Walnut Syrup Production for Increased Profitability and Farm Income Diversification" - FUNDED
  • Rechlin, Michael (PI).  NE-SARE Research. $49,824.  -4/1/2022.  "Designing and Building Centrifuges to Clarify Maple and Walnut Syrup" - FUNDED

SARE Outreach

Outreach about SARE:

Outreach events in Year 1: NE SARE information is taken to each of the major farming events by one or the other state coordinator in the state. Events in Year 1 included the WV Women in Agriculture conference (Oct 20-21, 2017) and WV Small Farm conference (Feb 22-24, 2018).  Workshops and trainings, such as the Lincoln County Farm Field Day and NRCS High Tunnel day long workshop, also had SARE information and state staff present to promote our programs. 

Social media in Year 1:  The SARE in WV facebook page is the main way we have used to publicize SARE via social media in West Virginia and in the last year we have grown our “likes” to over 400.  While the number of likes is not large, we have had posts that reach over 1,200 unique users.  In the fall of 2016, we added a Twitter account and we have grown from over 50 followers.  The scheduling software “Buffer” is used to schedule posts simultaneously to both social media streams.  With the removal of the NE SARE website at WVU by their communications department, a new NE SARE website promoting NE SARE programs and the programs of the two state coordinators will be hosted at WVSU starting in the summer of 2017.

Outreach events in Year 2: NE SARE was represented at the WV Women in Agriculture conference (Nov 2-3, 2018), WV Small Farm conference (Feb 15-16, 2019) and WV Urban Agriculture Conference and Community Expo (May 3, 2019).  Workshops and trainings, such as a session on Grant Writing at the WV Association for Fairs and Festivals (Jan 11, 2019), a session with WVSU Extension staff on SARE programs and grant opportunities (June 17, 2019), and a session for Veterans Affairs (VA) Farms (Aug 8, 2019) also had SARE information and state staff present to promote our programs. 

Social media in Year 2:  Facebook (@SAREinWV) continued as the main avenue for promotion, with over 500 people who follow and over 400 "likes" for the facebook page; our Twitter account (@SAREinWV) has over 113 followers.  We continue to use the scheduling software “Buffer” to schedule posts simultaneously to both social media streams.  In the spring of 2019, an instagram account (sareinwv) was added  and has 99 followers.  A new NE SARE website promoting NE SARE programs was created and is hosted at WVSU http://www.wvstateu.edu/Outreach/WVSU-Extension-Service/ANR/SARE.aspx.

Outreach events in Year 3:  Due to COVID-19, NE SARE was only represented at the WV Small Farm conference (Feb 19-22, 2020).  Workshops and trainings were limited as well with a session on Grant Writing at the WV Association for Fairs and Festivals (Jan 10, 2020), and a 90 minute session on Grant Writing for WV Small Farm conference (Feb 20, 2020) where both also had SARE information and state staff present to promote our publications as well as a our grant programs. 

Social media in Year 3:  Facebook (@SAREinWV) continued as the main avenue for promotion, with over 580 people who follow and over 450 "likes" for the facebook page; our Twitter account (@SAREinWV) has over 100 followers.  Our Instagram account (sareinwv) was added and has 147 followers.  We continue to use the scheduling software “Buffer” to schedule posts simultaneously to all three social media streams.  A NE SARE website at WVSU continues to be updated promoting NE SARE programs and is located at http://www.wvstateu.edu/Outreach/WVSU-Extension-Service/ANR/SARE.aspx.

Recieved information about SARE grant programs and information resouces:

Audience Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Total
Service providers 40 50 20 110
Farmers 100 120 60 280
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.