Kentucky State University - 2023-2024 MODEL STATE PROGRAM - Program Assistant

Progress report for SKY23-A002

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $33,000.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Grant Recipient: Kentucky State University
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
State Coordinator:
Jerusha Lay, DVM
Kentucky State University
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Project Information


Now in its 25th year, The Third Thursday Thing (Third Thursdays) features monthly sustainable agriculture training sessions. The sessions take place at the Kentucky State University Harold R. Benson Research and Demonstration Farm on the third Thursday of every month with no session in December. Agricultural professionals and farm leaders throughout the Commonwealth and surrounding states are the target audience for the trainings. These trainings are structured for multiple learning types, with lecture style presentations followed by hands on demonstration/activities. KSU has also added a Fourth Wednesday program on sustainable beef cattle production and marketing based on requests from the agricultural community and are exploring the addition of a Women in Sustainable Agriculture Group.  KSU is also including funds to support some of our KSU agents to seek professional development in sustainable agriculture in other venues.  Third Thursdays have become an institution in Kentucky’s professional development educational programming. The broad range of topics (listed in a later section) ensure that agricultural professionals and producer leaders have training in the skills necessary on a diversified small farm. Third Thursdays also serves as a space for synergies in small farm education. Many conferences and educational meetings are planned around “Third Thursdays” including: the Annual Small, Limited-Resource/Minority Farmers Conference, the International Pawpaw Conference, the Regional SARE Goat Project’s Collaborator Conference, and many others.


Project Objectives:

2023 KSU 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.

  • Kentucky’s SARE PDP Model State Program objectives are to build a broad base of interest and skills in agricultural sustainability among extension agents, other professionals, and farmers, particularly mentor farmers, in the state to equip them with the needed skills to assist farmers, marketers, and community leaders, and to facilitate a diverse range of collaborative projects.


  • Continue to offer the basic science-based information on sustainable agriculture production and marketing.
  • Support the further development of a community of women working in sustainable agriculture.
  • Forums for underserved farmers and professionals to network with USDA, State, Research, Extension, NRCS, and other professionals, learn about their programs and opportunities, and learn about Third Thursdays.


SARE Third Thursday Thing Outline of workshops 2022 and 2023

2022 Third Thursday Thing Workshop Schedule


January:  Natural Resources (Jody Thompson)


February: Organic Agriculture


March: Goat Production and Marketing


April:  Farmers Markets (Joni Nelson)


May: Aquaculture


June: Juneteenth (Tiffany Bellfield, Community Farm Alliance


July: Sustainable Agriculture Small Farm Field Day


August: Environmental Impacts on Small Farmers (Cindy Rice)


September: National Pawpaw Third Thursday


October: Small Ruminants


November: Small, Limited-Resource, Minority Farmers Conference (many topics)



2023 Third Thursday Thing Workshop Schedule


January:  Learn About USDA Farm & Home Loans and Natural Resources


February: Organic Agriculture


March: Small Ruminants & Goats


April: Weed & Insect Control & Beneficial Insects  -  & – NRCS Programs


May: Aquaculture


June:  Farmers Markets and Juneteenth


July: Learn About Farm Fencing & Pasture


August: Sustainable & Organic Agriculture


September: National Pawpaw Third Thursday


October: Small Ruminants & Goats


November: Small, Limited-Resource, Minority Farmers Conference


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Ed Thompson
  • Kevin Hocker
  • Jane O'Tiernan O'Tiernan


Educational approach:

The Third Thursday Thing offered these workshops in summary for FY 2023:


Workshop/Training Title

Number of attendees


KSU “Third Thursday Thing”

Topic: “Pasture Poultry and Fencing”

July 20, 2023 –in-person at 10 a.m. EST & 155 view streamed live








KSU “Third Thursday Thing”

Topic: “NRCS & Drones”

August 17, 2023 –in-person at 10 a.m. EST & 64 view streamed live






KSU “Third Thursday Thing”

Topic: “National PawPaw Day”

September 21, 2023 –in-person at 10 a.m. EST & 917 view streamed live




KSU “Third Thursday Thing”

Topic: “Small Ruminants”

October 19, 2023 –in-person at 10 a.m. EST & 114 view streamed live








KSU “Third Thursday Thing”

Topic: “Engaging Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers—2023 Farm Bill Update-Policy Center”

Presenter: Dr. Eloris D. Speight


Topic: “Enhancing the Understanding and Use of Federal Crop Insurance by Producers”

Presenter: SeRena M. Hill, University of Arkansas

Topic: Building Human Diversity & Equity Among Producers & Inspectors in the Organic Sector Presenter: Dr. Shawn Lucas, KSU ; Kenya Abraham, Organic Transition Program Manager





KSU “Third Thursday Thing”

Topic: Resources and Funding For Farmers.

January 18, 2024 - in-person at 10 a.m. EST                                                                           





KSU “Third Thursday Thing”

Topic: Organic Agriculture

February 15, 2024 - in-person at 10 a.m. EST




 KSU “Third Thursday Thing”

Topic: Farmers Markets & Local Foods

March 21, 2024 - in-person at 10 a.m. EST







KSU “Third Thursday Thing”

Topic: Poultry and Cattle

April 18, 2024 - in-person at 10 a.m. EST








KSU “Third Thursday Thing”

Topic: Aquaculture


May 16, 2024 –in-person at 10 a.m. EST






KSU “Third Thursday Thing”

Topic: Juneteenth Celebration & Agriculture Technology

June 20, 2024 –in-person at 10 a.m. EST







Education & Outreach Initiatives

Third Thursday Workshops

Objective 1: Professional Development opportunity to train approximately 20-30 new state specialists on program design, curriculum development, and measurable outcomes for impact-based reporting.
Objective 2: The State Specialist and other extension professionals will train approximately 40-50 new extension agents and extension associates on specific content and how to implement the programs in their communities. The agents will then be able to return to their communities to work with an estimated 70-80 farmers each.
Objective 3: Develop a program to create Mentor Farmers. Eight experienced farmers will be selected and trained to assist beginning farmers and work in conjunction with extension services to help promote agriculture within their communities. These farmers will comprise a variety of agricultural enterprises, sizes of farmers and geographic regions. They will attend the 3-day conference to learn skills in how to disseminate information and implement programs.


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.

Outcomes and impacts:

KSU’s target audience is a blend of Extension, NRCS, research, and governmental personnel. We also place strong emphasis on professional development of producer leaders in the community who are poised to share the information learned at the Third Thursday Thing with many of their neighbors. We engage in Focus Group feedback throughout the year, and we collect and analyze attendance data to ensure that we are recruiting a balanced group of attendees. For the UK portion, our focus is on developing the capacity of our technical assistance professionals in the state. In our experience these groups do not have abundant funding to support their continued professional development in the field of sustainable agriculture. The main objective of these efforts is for these professionals to acquire knowledge, skills, and networks that allow them to better serve their clientele.  The Third Thursday Thing serves to provide training for both UK and KSU staff.

Educational & Outreach Activities

60 Consultations
12 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
5 Minigrants
4 On-farm demonstrations
6 Online trainings
12 Published press articles, newsletters
1 Study circle/focus groups
3 Tours
3 Travel Scholarships
16 Webinars / talks / presentations
12 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

74 Extension
37 Researchers
25 Nonprofit
560 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

2 Grants received that built upon this project
12 New working collaborations
72 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
601 Farmers reached through participant's programs

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

SARE resources and opportunities have been invaluable to a small 1890s university extension program. Through Third Thursday Things and other workshops and events, Kentucky State University promotes SARE and it's support for our agriculture and small farms programs. KSU discusses programs and the mission of SARE with small scale farmers, minority farmers and socially disadvantaged farmers to encourage their participation in projects and SARE opportunities. By working together we may make advancements in agriculture improve the sustainability of farms across the commonwealth.

750 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
160 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.