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.
This program provides an educational program and support network for 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 WVU NE SARE PDP 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 WV NE SARE PDP 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 NE 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 that 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.
- 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 milestone to allow questions, challenges and successes were shared using GoToMeeting and wererecorded 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 for year 1
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Milestones for year 2
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 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.
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.
a. Review assigned proposals
b. Prepare to be primary reviewer for assigned proposal(s) at Training 3
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.
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.
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
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)
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)
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.
Milestone Activities and Participation Summary
Educational activities and events conducted by the project team:
|Activity||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|
|Study circle / focus groups||1||1|
|Webinars, talks and presentations||8||8|
Beneficiaries who particpated in the project’s educational activities and events:
|Audience||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total Individuals|
Performance Target Outcomes
Performance Target Outcomes - Service Providers
NE SARE information is taken to each of the major farming events by one or the other state coordinator in the state, which 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. 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.
Recieved information about SARE grant programs and information resouces:
|Audience||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3||Total|