University of Kentucky Training Grant- MSP22

Progress report for SKY22-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $11,000.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Grant Recipient: University of Kentucky
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
State Coordinator:
Dr. Timothy Woods
University of Kentucky
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Project Information


Dr. Tim Woods is the new UK State Coordinator and Brett Wolff is the Kentucky Program Assistant. In addition to his leadership of the program, Dr. Woods brings expertise in marketing, agribusiness development, and local food systems. Brett continues to act as a networker for the program, identifying new opportunities for collaboration and new venues to share SSARE resources. In our proposed programming this year, we have decided to focus on supporting one specific program related to farm succession planning. We had previously considered a program like this but COVID necessitated a change of plans. Our specific target audience will be agriculture service providers including Extension Agents, non-Agent extension personnel, non-profit employees, governmental employees, and farmer leaders. While the bulk of programming costs associated with the Third Thursday Thing are included in the Kentucky State University proposal, we do provide support to their monthly workshops and the program assistant supports both programs.

Project Objectives:

Note that the funds in Kentucky are split into Kentucky State University funds and University of Kentucky funds. The two programs work together, though each has slightly different but complementary goals. Third Thursday Thing is one of the premier sustainable agriculture training programs in the state. It serves producer leaders, extension and other ag outreach providers in the state by offering up-to-date, timely information on a variety of sustainable agriculture topics. It meets two of the most pressing needs in Kentucky sustainable agriculture: the need for regular, relevant, basic production and marketing information, and a place for agricultural professionals to seek professional development and connect with growers and other clientele.

The University of Kentucky’s program is this year focused on the farm transition component of land stewardship. This will be achieved through a professional development series aimed at agriculture outreach providers. We plan to draw national- level experts and regional experts together in a year-long series of presentations and trainings. This is based on feedback from our ag outreach community about the need for these kinds of trainings.

2022 Kentucky SARE MSP Revised Objectives:

  • Continue to offer the basic science-based information on sustainable agriculture production and marketing.
  • Supplement previous efforts with new subject matter training about farm succession and transition planning.
  • Expanding professional capacity of agriculture professionals in supporting producers as they plan for the present and future of their farms.
  • Support the further development of a community of women working in sustainable agriculture.


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Educational approach:

This project supported a virtual presentation based series on Farm Succession planning and supported attendance at an in-person conference of the Organic Association of Kentucky. We also provided SARE and other organizations' print materials to the Organic Association of Kentucky and Grow Appalachia to help support them in their sustainable agriculture education work. In a late-COVID and post-COVID landscape, virtual trainings are still a valid option for statewide trainings where travel would be costly. It also allows the project team to attract speakers whose fees are considerably reduced for virtual formats. This project relied in part on these technologies while also supporting in-person and hard copy materials.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Farm Succession Virtual Training Series

To give agriculture outreach providers an overview of key considerations for supporting clients through Farm Succession planning and to establish a network of experts in this area to conduct future trainings.


The SARE team conducted a 5-part, 7-speaker virtual training series on Farm Succession specifically tailored to the needs and interests of agricultural outreach professionals. The series included: 

Outcomes and impacts:

A total of 47 unique professionals from 11 organizations across Kentucky registered for the course. 23 unique professionals attended the series live with an average of 11 (range 8-16) attending the individual presentations. The series videos have been viewed a total of 242 times since recordings were posted. 

We collected a total of 30 evaluations (we collected responses from those watching afterward and watching live). We asked participants about their learning outcomes and their planned behavioral outcomes as a result of participating in the series. Results indicated below as a percentage of respondents. 

Learning Outcomes % "yes"
I feel more confident in my general knowledge related to estate planning and farm succession/transition management. 30%
I feel more confident in my ability to set future estate planning and farm succession/transition management goals. 15%
I learned ways to support producers in managing current farm transition issues facing my clients. 35%
I can more effectively advise on farm transition strategies for my clients. 10%
I better understand farm transition tools (Power of Attorney, trust, wills, advance directives, insurance, etc.). 20%
I better understand wills and the probate process. 5%
I have a better understanding of heirs property. 60%
Offer farm transition programming in my county. 40%
Behavioral Outcomes % yes
Follow up with at least one specific client who is currently navigating farm transition. 20%
Create a newsletter article, social media post, or similar communication about farm transition. 45%
Contact one of the speakers today for more information about farm transition and succession planning. 20%

In addition to the training outcomes, the project also helped to establish new relationships between extension faculty and subject matter experts who will continue leading future educational and support efforts in farm succession. We relied heavily on the networks of project co-leader Dr. Steve Isaacs to strategize speakers and plan out the series. The other project co-leader, Dr. Nichole Huff brought her own network and expertise to the project, and the new relationships established within this “network of networks” parties are one of the key outputs of the project. Already within a few months of the project end, a small group of Kentucky-focused ag professionals—coordinated by Dr. Huff and Dr. Becky Smith (speaker)—met virtually to discuss key issues on this matter. Given that multiple project participants voiced a desire for more intensive “how-to” trainings in the future, this network will be crucial. 

From Dr. Steve Isaacs:

The webinar series on succession planning was an excellent example of leveraging a professional career network. Decades of work with capable professionals like Dave Kohl, Kevin Ferguson, and David Marrison made it easy and natural to call on their substantial expertise in the areas of succession planning. Each are nationally recognized authorities and brought a unique perspective to the webinars. They may have said some of the same things I would have said, but their reputations and “out-of-state” credentials gave a special level of credibility to the series.

From Dr. Nichole Huff:

The Farm Succession Professional Development Webinar Series demonstrated how different units within Kentucky Cooperative Extension can come together to expand our reach across the state. The collaboration between Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) and Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) allowed us to extend our scope to include topics such as estate planning and heirs’ property, and introduce new-to-Kentucky speakers like Dr. Becky Smith with Mississippi State Cooperative Extension. Maybe most importantly, the series sparked conversations about continued interdisciplinary collaborations with internal and external stakeholders to identify and address gaps in programming. I see the series acting as a catalyst to spark future ideas and action!

Organic Association of Kentucky Conference Support

To provide opportunities for sustainable agriculture professionals and farmer leaders to engage the certified organic growing and marketing community in focused conversations and educational lectures.


The SARE MSP provided support for 71 total scholarships for ag professionals and producer leaders to attend the 2023 Organic Association of Kentucky Conference.

Two people gather to discuss organic agriculture Small group. Farmers gather to discuss organic agriculture Large Group. Farmers gather to discuss organic agriculture Presentation at the OAK conference

Program Composition

Trade Show

6 Pre-Conference Workshops

2 Keynote Speakers

25 Speaker Sessions

2 Farm Tours

445 Total Attendees

Outcomes and impacts:

Evaluation results attached. 

Conf. 2023 Results for SARE

Providing SARE materials to Ag Professionals

To support the mission of ag professionals with educational materials from SARE


SARE MSP provided SARE materials to the Organic Association of Kentucky and Grow Appalachia for use in their field days. The program also provided Cover Crops field guides to ag professionals across the state so they could distribute them to their clients as well. 

Outcomes and impacts:

Clients received SARE materials to support the sustainable agriculture education they received from Ag Outreach providers. 

Educational & Outreach Activities

100 Consultations
5 Online trainings
71 Travel Scholarships

Participation Summary:

200 Extension
50 Researchers
50 Nonprofit
500 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

500 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
100 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

10 New working collaborations
150 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:

Our Program Assistant continues to serve as one of the primary faces of the KYSARE program. He networks extensively across the state and beyond to identify new partners and new ideas for amplifying our financial investment. The core job of KY SARE’s Program Assistant is coordinating all of the SARE-promoted trainings and programs. This includes working with the content providers (faculty, private sector, government, NGO) and SARE leadership to develop effective programs. He provides logistical support (finding meeting space, arranging travel, access to materials) and assisting program evaluation. We have provided SARE materials, support and information for producers, researchers and other ag professionals in applying for SARE grants and have highlighted SARE materials in our extension programs for other areas. This synergy is invaluable. 

Kentucky’s SARE PDP program objective is to build a broad base of interest and skills in agricultural sustainability among extension agents and other professionals in the state, equip them with the needed skills to assist farmers, marketers, and community leaders, and to facilitate a diverse range of collaborative projects. The way that we manage our programs has led to strong partnerships with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, NRCS, FSA, Community Farm Alliance, Kentucky Center for Agricultural and Rural Development, the Cooperative Extension Service, Grow Appalachia, as well as grower groups across the state

The Program Assistant also manages the SARE grant funds, helping with budgets, arranging for reimbursement and overall management. Because sustainable agriculture programs in Kentucky extend much beyond the SARE-supported programs, the program assistant actively participates in other activities. This includes attending extension and grower events where he simultaneously represents KYSARE and the UK Center for Crop Diversification, allowing him to provide SARE resources anywhere they might be helpful and relevant. His engagement and connections markedly enhance the visibility of the SARE Program.  He is actively involved in Kentucky State University’s “Third Thursday Thing”—monthly sustainable ag field days covering a wide range of topics. The current Program Assistant has strong networking and leadership skills that help us build productive partnerships with Farm Services Agency, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, and numerous NGOs. The program assistant also oversees reporting and proposal development.

1,200 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
600 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.