The Louisiana State University AgCenter (LSUAC) in collaboration with the Southern University Agricultural Research and Extension Center (SUAREC) will implement and support programs that enhance the capabilities of Louisiana’s agricultural professionals in the area of sustainable agriculture. Themes for 2016 – 2017 include: pastured poultry, fruit crops, small ruminants, fall garden and the Louisiana Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (LA SAWG) annual meeting, as well as regional sustainable agriculture related conferences and workshops. LSU AgCenter and SUAREC personnel will be strongly encouraged to attend the training sessions. Information delivery systems to be utilized include workshops and long-distance education training sessions, field trips, resource manuals and informational bulletins. The Louisiana Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Board will meet twice annually for programmatic planning and evaluation. The Program Assistant (half-time), funded by this project, will be responsible for maintaining the state SARE website (http://www.southernsare.org/SARE-in-Your-State/Louisiana) and Louisiana SARE Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/LouisianaSARE/). The other duties for this position include assisting in coordination of the state workshops and field days, the SSAWG scholarships and arrangements, the sustainable agriculture materials generated by the project, promotion of SARE resources and grant opportunities, and development of on-line and hard copy sustainable agriculture resources. Louisiana SARE maintains its presence is statewide sustainable agriculture through the SSARE event calendar, the Facebook page and events, and through connections with other prominent sustainable agriculture websites.
The Louisiana SARE main objective is to train county agents, mentor farmers, and agriculture professionals who will share their sustainable agriculture knowledge and expertise directly with farmers, land-owners, and the public. The overall objectives of the Louisiana Model State Plan (MSP) are:
Maintain the state SARE website with sustainable agriculture materials and resources, and links to related state organizations.
Conduct workshops on sustainable agriculture for extension and agriculture professionals.
Conduct bi-annual state advisory board meetings with the purpose of revising and modifying the strategic plan.
Identify annual training objectives with the input from the Louisiana Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Committee.
Encourage extension and agricultural professionals to continue to attend sustainable agriculture meetings such as the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group annual meeting.
Continue participation in workshops, meetings and field days that highlight sustainable agriculture practices.
Promote the SARE program results, resources and grant opportunities in Louisiana.
The Model State Plan (MSP) for Louisiana allows for enhanced programming effort beyond the state plans of work for the separate institutions (Southern University Agricultural Research and Education Center, Louisiana State University AgCenter). The MSP has allowed for the increased number of training sessions per year and the Louisiana SARE PDP program to have greater resources available for training activities, using the Southern SARE Louisiana webpage for sustainable agriculture resources, as well as increased coordination and networking. The hiring of a program assistant through the SARE PDP allowed for a unified sustainable agriculture programming effort for the state.
The SARE PDP will emphasize an interdisciplinary and participatory approach to training. Training will range from beginner to intermediate and be provided in a classroom environment followed by hands-on experiences and demonstrations such as field days and on-farm tours to fortify training subject matter in a variety of ways. Handouts will be provided for attendees to follow along during the training, in order to take notes, and to review after the workshop is over. Subjects for trainings include cover crops, high-tunnels, marketing, integrated pest management, small ruminants, pollination, horticulture, local food systems, and soils. The primary audiences for the trainings are 1862 and 1890 extension agents, NRCS conservation field staff, and other agriculture professionals and mentor farmers. Agriculture professionals and those who train farmers and serve small-scale, minority, and limited resource farmers as well as those who serve larger-scale conventional farms will be encouraged to attend. Educational program participants will increase their competency and skills in areas related to sustainable agriculture. Participants will have increased confidence and knowledge that will enable them to respond to client inquiries with knowledge and authority regarding sustainable agriculture principles and practices.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
To train agriculture professionals, extension agents, NRCS agents, and mentor farmers in sustainable agriculture practices, and through their training pass this information on to farmers, land owners, and the general public.
Louisiana SARE holds and sponsors several workshops, meetings, conferences, and trainings in cooperation with other agencies in all areas of the state through out the year. LA SARE also distributes scholarships to several conferences in and out of the state of Louisiana, such as the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference. These trainings and scholarships together promote SARE’s mission of providing diversified sustainable agriculture education.
Louisiana SARE was able to provide travel scholarships to 36 extension and agricultural educators to attend the SSAWG conference in Lexington, Kentucky. LA SARE hosted or sponsored 15 training events including several meetings, conferences, and workshops. Over 85% of participants of the trainings used the information they learned to answer client questions, as well incorporate those ideas into their regular programming. Over 40% of participants developed new programming based on information learned at the conferences. At least 80% of attendees created new and useful professional contacts at the training events. These events educated attendees and served as an opportunity to make them aware of SARE and other resources that will be useful in their field.
Educational & Outreach Activities
The training sessions and programs discussed above had the following outcomes:
- Increase awareness of SUAREC and LSU AgCenter extension and research programs.
- Knowledge of resources that are available to Agricultural professionals regarding all the topics above mentioned.
- Increase request for information regarding topics on sustainable agriculture.
- Increase interest from Agricultural professionals, extension agents, farmers in attending sustainable agriculture events around the state.
- Greater regional impact
- Increased collaboration of research and extension personnel in sustainable agricultural programs
- More awareness about SARE programs. Brochures are made available at each event.
- SARE books and jump drives have been given to Agricultural professionals, extension agents and attendees to each event.
All these events have been partially or fully funded with SARE funds.
SARE should offer trainings or put on a conference dedicated to farm to school at the University level or beginning and running a campus-based farm.