Arkansas Model State Program 2023-2024

Progress report for SAR23-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $22,000.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Grant Recipient: University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
Region: Southern
State: Arkansas
State Coordinator:
Dr. Amanda McWhirt
University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension
Expand All

Project Information


The Arkansas 2023-2024 SARE PDP Model State Program will focus on increasing knowledge and developing skills in different aspects of urban farming. The developed trainings and events will be made available to Cooperative Extension staff, UA and UAPB faculty, staff and students, USDA staff, farmers’ market managers, other agriculture professionals, and farmer leaders. Proposed activities include a multi-part urban farming series covering hydroponics, aquaculture, pollinators, and poultry as well as providing travel scholarships for agriculture leaders to attend regional meetings focused on sustainable agriculture. Program participants will be assessed for changes in their knowledge, confidence, and ability to share new information related to sustainable agriculture. As a result of these trainings and workshops, the knowledge of, interest in, and application of sustainable practices by Arkansas farmers and agriculture professionals will continue to expand in Arkansas, leading to thriving farms and vibrant communities.

Project Objectives:

Our annual SARE-PDP plan is developed through the input of the state advisory board, county extension agents and specialists, and previous workshop participants. The 2023-2024 program builds on past programs and relationships and addresses areas of interest by producers and ag leaders.  We continue to invest in sending agents and farmer mentors to conferences that provide sustainable agriculture-focused training including the Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable conference, the Southern Family Farmers & Food Systems Conference, and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference. These conferences are well-received by our agents and farmer leaders and are opportunities for them to gain new information and engage in sustainable agriculture networks.

There is a growing interest in urban farming as the demand grows for locally-sourced foods. To support this growing interest, we plan to provide a four-part training series that targets different aspects of urban farming: hydroponics, aquaculture, pollinators, and poultry. The diversity of training topics will provide us with the opportunity to highlight facilities practicing different types of urban farming across the state. These trainings will also allow agricultural professionals to hear from specialists in these fields and receive updated information and resources on these urban farming practices that they can share with their communities.

Based on this information, our outreach objectives for the AR-SARE PDP program include:

  1. UADA-CES agents, farmers, and other agricultural professionals will increase their knowledge of different aspects of urban farming: hydroponics, aquaculture, poultry, and pollinators.
  2. UADA-CES agents will travel to the Southeast Regional Fruit & Vegetable Conference, the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference, and the Southern Family Farmers & Food Systems Conference to increase their awareness and knowledge of sustainable agriculture concepts and will be better equipped to provide farmers with guidance on implementing new practices on their farm.
  3. Agriculture professionals in Arkansas (UADA-CES agents and specialists, NRCS staff, farmers market managers, farmer leaders) will increase their recognition of the SARE program through promotion of SARE and SSARE resources, AR-SARE PDP activities on listservs and blog through increased visibility at events around the state.


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Katy Brantley (Educator)
  • Aaron Cato (Educator and Researcher)
  • Henry English (Educator and Researcher)
  • Heather Friedrich (Educator and Researcher)
  • Mildred Griggs (Educator)
  • Margo Hale (Educator)
  • Amanda McWhirt (Educator and Researcher)
  • James Morgan
  • Ryan Neal (Educator and Researcher)
  • Obadiah Njue (Educator and Researcher)
  • Sixte Ntamatungiro (Educator and Researcher)
  • Stephan Walker (Educator and Researcher)
  • Elizabeth Young (Educator)

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Travel Scholarships

To provide learning opportunities for extension agents and specialists, farmers market managers, and farmer leaders in Arkansas to expand their understanding and application of sustainable agriculture and increase their ability to implement and share information on sustainable agricultural practices.


Travel scholarships have  been provided for 2 agricultural extension personnel and 4 beginning/underserved farmers. The recipients were able to attend the 2nd Annual Arkansas Grown Conference held in Hot Springs, AR.

Outcomes and impacts:

Because of these travel scholarships, recipients indicated they increased their
knowledge of sustainable agriculture issues, advanced their skills, and increased
their networks.

Feedback from the extension personnel and beginning farmers that attended these
conferences will be used in blog posts for the AR SARE blog page. The purpose of these blog posts is to highlight a meeting that agents attend using SSARE funds in hopes to encourage other agriculture professionals to reach out to the AR SARE program to attend more sustainable conferences and promote the
program's support in providing opportunities for sustainable ag education


To increase the knowledge, awareness, and resources available to extension agents, farmers market managers, farmer mentors, and other agricultural leaders in Arkansas for various aspects of urban farming.


A multi-part farm tour series is scheduled for fall 2024 and spring 2025 highlighting different types of urban farming practices across the state of Arkansas.

Educational & Outreach Activities

6 Travel Scholarships
2 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

70 Extension
4 Farmers/ranchers

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

Southern SARE grant programs are shared with Arkansas extension agents, UA researchers, and listservs for the Arkansas Farmers Market Association, NWA Farmers Market Alliance and the Center for Arkansas Farm and Food. SARE materials and publications are incorporated into trainings where subject matter is applicable and distributed at vendor booths during conferences. Extension agents and other agricultural professionals are given the opportunity to receive hard copies of SARE books and other resources for their local offices.

The AR SARE Blog page has accumulated a total of 250 page views. Link to AR SARE Blog page:

A newsletter was developed for those interested in signing up for the AR SARE blog, where they received information on upcoming events, information, and funding opportunities related to sustainable agriculture in Arkansas. 14 newsletters have been sent via Constant Contact to 178 subscribers, an increase of 36 since the 2022-2023 reporting period.

The AR SARE YouTube channel has a total of 14 videos that have accumulated 5.8K views with a total of 146 subscribers. Link to AR SARE YouTube Channel:

A new AR SARE homepage was developed that houses information regarding SARE grants, the blog page, SARE funded projects, SARE training highlights, and a directory. The homepage has accumulated a total of 251 page views, link to AR SARE Homepage:

The AR SARE program assistant attended 3 conferences (AR Grown Conference, Rural Life Conference, and AR Women in Ag Conference) where they were an exhibitor for the AR SARE program. The exhibition booth included free SARE books and handouts as well as provided attendees with the opportunity to sign up for the AR SARE blog.

301 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
272 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
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.