2023 Model State Program - Clemson University

Progress report for SCS23-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $22,000.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Grant Recipient: Clemson University
Region: Southern
State: South Carolina
State Coordinator:
Dr. Matt Smith
Clemson Pee Dee Research & Education Center
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Project Information


The overall objectives of the 2023-2024 SC SARE Program were to continue the existing strategic and collaborative planning process for statewide sustainable agriculture development; provide professional development opportunities for Extension agents, NRCS field staff and other agriculture professionals; reward outstanding service; and to continue to organize and support in-service training in sustainable agriculture practices. The MSP Assistant worked with the state SARE coordinators and program advisory committee to organize training activities for 1890 and 1862 Extension and other agriculture professionals that will address critical needs identified by program stakeholders. The program is guided by stakeholder input through an advisory committee consisting of farmers, agriculture professionals, NGO representatives and others with an interest in sustainable agriculture development.
Our mission/strategic plan was to foster the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices statewide through education and outreach programs on relevant topics for Cooperative Extension Service personnel, Natural Resources Conservation Service staff and other agriculture professionals, farmers, and landowners. The overall program mission/plan did not change however, training topics were revised based on needs identified by our program stakeholders. The program advisory committee met on January 12, 2023, and identified priority topics for 2023 training programs. The MSP Assistant position(s) will continue to facilitate program reporting and evaluation and will assist with project accounting and budgeting. A separate budget for Clemson and South Carolina State University has been developed. Both institutions will manage their awarded funds independently. 

In June of 2023, Dr. Matt Smith retired from Clemson University. Dr. John Andrae stepped in to serve as the new 1862 SC SARE Program Co-Coordinator. 

Project Objectives:

Objectives for Project Period 2023

• Continue the existing strategic planning process for statewide sustainable agriculture development. Building on new and existing collaborations with stakeholder groups, the state co-coordinators will work with the MSP Assistant and with the SC SARE Advisory Committee to broaden the pool of stakeholders including under-represented groups who are involved with the planning process and the development of educational programs. As in previous years, an annual Open Forum was held in January (in-person only, January 12, 2023 at the Clemson Sandhills Research and Education Center in Columbia, SC) to identify priorities and to plan educational programs based on stakeholder needs for 2023. In 2023 the SC SARE Program partnered with the SC Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program to host a joint Open Forum. This was an attempt to rectify the low level of participation encountered last year and foster collaboration between the two programs. We will continue to collaborate on training programs with stakeholder organizations and with SARE PDP personnel from neighboring states when appropriate. The comprehensive and inclusive planning process will limit duplication of effort and will help to leverage available resources.

• In 2023 the SC SARE Program continued to provide professional development opportunities for Extension agents, NRCS, FSA and state Department of Agriculture staff and other sustainable agriculture educators. The outcomes of this objective were that our agriculture professionals enhanced their knowledge and competency in sustainable agriculture, increased their contact with the sustainable agriculture community, and were to be recognized as local experts to be called upon for information on sustainable agriculture. Travel scholarships were provided for select Extension agents and agricultural professionals to attend the 2023 Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) Sustainable Agriculture Conference (November) and other sustainable agriculture educational events as funds are available. This objective was not met for 2023 as Extension Agent interest in the CFSA conference was less than enthusiastic. As such, offering scholarships will become of lesser priority for 2024. 

Continue to sponsor the “Outstanding Sustainable Agriculture Extension Agent of the Year” award to recognize SC cooperative extension personnel for excellence in sustainable agriculture outreach. A call for nominations will be released in summer of each year open to 1890 and 1862 personnel. The award recipient will receive a travel scholarship to attend a sustainable agriculture event and a plaque recognizing their service to the sustainable agriculture community. The award will continue to encourage the development of innovative public outreach programs by our Extension agents. This objective will continue for 2023 pending the creation of a new award search committee. This objective was not met for 2023 as this award has been disbanded within the Clemson Extension Service. 

• The SC SARE PDP Program continued to organize and conduct in-service training opportunities for Extension agents, NRCS, FSA and state Department of Agriculture personnel, agricultural educators, and for other interested persons as space permits. Workshop topics were determined by the Advisory Committee during the annual Open Forum in January. The MSP Assistant, in consultation with the coordinators and the SC CFSA representative, will have overall responsibility for workshop organization, publicity and evaluation. This on-going objective is a repeat from 2022 because new trainings are needed/requested annually and as new information is published. 


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Chanda Cooper
  • Dr. Bhupinder Farmaha (Researcher)
  • Kelly Flynn
  • Rebecca McKinney (Educator)
  • Karen McSwain
  • Gordon Mikell
  • Mark Nettles
  • Kerrie Roach
  • Kirsten Robertson
  • Nikki Seibert Kelley
  • Zack Snipes
  • Weatherly Thomas
  • Diana Vossbrinck
  • Dr. Brian Ward (Researcher)
  • Brian Wheat
  • Danny Howard
  • Sam Bass
  • Joss Mohr
  • Dr. Joshua Idassi (Educator)


Educational approach:

To the extent possible emphasized an interdisciplinary and participatory approach to training. Primary audiences for the trainings are 1862 and 1890 Extension agents, NRCS conservation field staff, and other agriculture professionals. Agriculture professionals who serve small and large scale farms, both conventional and organic/regenerative, were encouraged to attend. Strong stakeholder participation and input into educational program development reinforced trainee participation and enthusiasm for the program. Participants in the educational programs increased competency and skills in areas related to sustainable agriculture. They gained the knowledge and confidence (i.e. competency) that enabled them to respond positively and knowledgeably to client inquiries regarding principles and practices of sustainable agriculture.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

SC SARE/IPM Program Joint Open Forum 2023

Input from this public meeting was used to prioritize issues and formulate plans for statewide sustainable agriculture training and education programs in 2023.


On January 12, 2023, the SC SARE Program partnered with the Clemson IPM Program to host an annual open forum. This open forum allowed for networking among extension agents, farmers, agencies, non-profits, and researchers while providing the SC SARE program with feedback regarding areas that these stakeholders felt should be focused on for 2023.

2023 SC SARE Open Forum Minutes

Outcomes and impacts:

Discussions were held regarding what initiatives and areas SC SARE could better serve in. This open discussion allowed for prioritization of resources and recognition of areas for collaboration (see minutes).

Organic Commodities & Livestock Conference

Annual training event for commercial-scale growers to learn about organic livestock production


The SC SARE Program sponsored ($1,000) to support the CFSA Organic Commodities & Livestock Conference held in Raleigh, NC on March 6, 2023. 


Organic Livestock flyer

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees were educated and introduced to the concept of  organic livestock production

2023 SC Farmworkers Service Providers Institute

Annual meeting of the SC Farmworkers Service Providers Institute. This organization works with farm workers to bring together service providers for the farmworker community.


The SC SARE Program supported ($500) this meeting. This meeting was specifically focused on service providers/extension. Training addressed sustainability in a few ways: primarily building relationships between those working in sustainable food systems and those supporting farm workers.



Meeting Announcement

Outcomes and impacts:

This training strengthened the sustainable food hub network in South Carolina 

Growing Local SC Food Summit & SC Farmer Resource Rodeo

To provide ag. resources to local growers


Growing Local South Carolina is partnered with Clemson Extension's New and Beginning Farmer program to host a two-day "SC Local Food Summit" local farming and food event in Columbia, SC. This collaborative two-day event engaged the core farming & food system organizations in the state. The SC SARE Program sponsored $1,500 for this event. 

LocalFoodSummit Flyer

Outcomes and impacts:

This event supported multidisciplinary collaboration and provided resources to growers (grant resources, loan services, educational resources) that they might not have otherwise known about. The event also worked to strengthen the local food network of SC. 

Training Material Publication

To produce a publication regarding forage systems in SC


The SC SARE Program funded the publication of a training publication, Concepts and research-based recommendations for forage systems in South Carolina by Dr. Liliane Severino da Silva et al. (2023)

Available here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/371120650_Concepts_and_research-based_recommendations_for_forage_systems_in_South_Carolina 


Outcomes and impacts:

This book was successfully published and used as educational material for trainings regarding sustainable forage production in SC 

Organic Certification Training

A train-the-trainer session geared towards educating future organic certifiers


SC SARE funded ($1,000) a train-the-trainer session, hosted by the Clemson University Organic Certification Program, that focused on training service providers in the rules and regulations required to be organic certifiers. Limited travel assistance was offered to 5 participants. 



Outcomes and impacts:

This event successfully trained 49 participants in how to become certified organic inspectors

38th CFSA Sustainable Ag. Conference

The annual Carolina Farm Stewardship Association Sustainable Agriculture Conference


Since 1986, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s annual conference has drawn folks from across the food system — farmers, foodies, researchers, educators, and activists — for a celebration of innovation in local sustainable agriculture. The SC SARE Program sponsored $1,000 in sponsorship fees and  $1,100 Extension agent registration. 


Outcomes and impacts:

The conference expanded participants' knowledge in sustainable agriculture while providing a chance for networking and collaboration. This conference also offered exposure for the SC SARE Program with those who may be unfamiliar with SARE. 

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
10 Travel Scholarships
5 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

106 Extension
15 Researchers
33 Nonprofit
43 Agency
2 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
37 Farmers/ranchers
240 Others

Learning Outcomes

476 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches

Project Outcomes

5 New working collaborations
27 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

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

The SC SARE webpage was revised and migrated to a new platform (Clemson WordPress). Updates included the new Clemson Co- Coordinator Dr. John Andrae (taking over for Dr. Matt Smith) and additional SARE Resources. The webpage is an important promotional tool for allowing us to post updates, events, and news regarding the SC SARE program.


The SC SARE listserv is contacted regularly and instructions to unsubscribe are made clear for anyone who wishes to do so. This is important to prevent SC SARE from developing a reputation for being "spammy". The listserv is used to share updates about the SC SARE program and news from related programs.

534 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources

Information Products

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.