North Carolina SARE (NC SARE) promotes and supports sustainable agriculture trainings for agriculture professionals. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service (NCCES) educators are the primary focus group for trainings. NC SARE offers sustainable agriculture trainings through competitive travel scholarships. These travel scholarships benefit agriculture professionals at all levels as the educators may apply for the trainings that best suit their home county’s needs and resources, as well as their own level of expertise. This system serves the broad nature of sustainable agriculture, and applications for technical and educational training in any area of sustainable agriculture may be submitted. NC SARE will consider scholarship applications for both in-state and out-of-state trainings. Possible trainings may include, but are not limited to the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) Workshops, North Carolina Agriculture & Technical State University (NCA&TSU) Field Days, Mid-Atlantic Dairy Grazing Conference, Southeast Vegetable Growers Conference and the Missouri Grazing Conference. A major training supported by NC SARE is the annual Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference (CFSA SAC). The CFSA SAC offers a wide variety of sustainable agriculture workshops and presentations from technical classes to policy and advocacy sessions. This annual conference held either in North Carolina or South Carolina will also receive NC SARE support through honoraria for speakers and development of Extension training. NC SARE seeks to promote sustainable agriculture throughout the NCCES agriculture educators through the NC SARE Outstanding NCCES Educator award, in partnership with CFSA. NC SARE is a visible presence in NC sustainable agriculture by promoting events through its website events calendar, the NC Extension portal, Twitter, and through links from other sustainable agriculture websites.
NC SARE main outreach objective is to promote and help provide sustainable agriculture trainings for Cooperative Extension agents, NRCS and Soil and Water personnel, appropriate non-profit personnel, and mentor farmers so that these agriculture teachers and leaders can pass on information and knowledge of sustainable agriculture practices to farmers, land owners, and the public. NC SARE will provide PD travel scholarships
- to at least 30 agents, personnel, and/or farmers to attend the CFSA SAC
- to 5-7 agents, personnel, and/or farmer to attend the SSAWG Conference
- to 5-10 agents, personnel, and/or farmers to attend CEFS or other training events
- to 1-5 agents to attend other sustainable agriculture trainings that become available in NC
NC SARE expected to offer scholarships to trainings to a total of at least 50 agents, personnel, and/or mentor farmers in 2016-2017. Sustainable agriculture trainings and scholarship opportunities are publicized via the NC SARE website, twitter, and NC Extension Portal. NC SARE manages the North Carolina Sustainable Agriculture website www.sustainableag.ces.ncsu.edu and maintains a regularly updated events calendar to promote local, regional and national sustainable agriculture trainings. NC SARE also manages the NC SARE twitter account and uses the account for outreach about sustainable agriculture training events and scholarships, as well as sustainable agriculture news from SARE. NC SARE outreach includes setting up information
booths at major sustainable agriculture events, including SARE media brochures and SARE technical publications to hand out to Extension educators, personnel, and mentor farmers.
NC SARE Travel Scholarships provide NCCES educators, NC Soil and Water Conservationists, and NC NRCS personnel opportunities to receive relevant trainings which suit the unique needs of the individual educators, their counties and their constituents. These diversified trainings provide learning opportunities that cover the broad scope of sustainable agriculture, fulfilling the goal of the SARE program to provide diverse education in sustainable agriculture. The primary expected outcome is to have a broader base of NCCES educators trained in sustainable agriculture. This outcome will be measured by evaluations following training events.
In 2016-2017, NC SARE offered travel scholarships to the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference (CFSA SAC), the American Forage and Grassland Council annual meeting, and the SSAWG annual conference. NC SARE also helped fund the Small Farm Field Day at NC A&T. These conferences and meetings offered beginner through intermediate level workshops, tours, and intensive trainings covering a broad range of sustainable agriculture topics. Subjects for trainings included farm business programs, soils, fertility, grazing, sustainable livestock management, seeds classes, horticulture, alternative crops production, and local food systems. Under these extensive themes, specific sustainable agriculture trainings occur. These conferences/meetings fulfill the need for training which gives a vision of sustainable agriculture as well as specific topic workshops. The considerable number of University-based faculty, area specialists and other topic experts at these conferences offer connections and networking opportunities for NCCES educators.
NC SARE also funded the participation of Extension educators and other advisors in a pilot online course on local food systems. The Local Food Systems course is an online, non‐credit professional development certificate training program that consists of five online courses. The pilot of the course was launched in November 2016. Participants were asked to complete Course 1 within 60 days of beginning the course and to complete all remaining courses within one year of launching the course. The NC SARE scholarships funded 12 participants. The online course was presented in different mediums (short and long videos, interactive case studies, texts, and questions) in order to reach everyone’s learning styles and increase engagement in the subject matter.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
Provide NCCES educators, NC Soil and Water Conservationists, and NC NRCS personnel opportunities to receive relevant trainings which suit the unique needs of the individual educators, their counties and their constituents.
NC SARE provides travel scholarships to diversified trainings, such as the CFSA Sustainable Ag Conference, Carolina Meat Conference, and Small Farm Field Days. These trainings provide learning opportunities that cover the broad scope of sustainable agriculture, fulfilling the goal of the SARE program to provide diverse education in sustainable agriculture
The primary expected outcome is to have a broader base of NCCES educators trained in sustainable agriculture. We provided travel scholarships to 34 Extension educators to attend the 2016 Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference, 10 Extension educators to attend the 2017 American Forage and Grasslands Council annual meeting, and 6 agriculture educators and advisors to the Southern SAWG annual conference. We also provided funding for a special online training in local food systems for 12 Extension educators.
Over 90% of participants in the conferences used information they learned to answer client questions as well as incorporate ideas learned into their regular programming. Over 50% of conference participants developed new programming based on information learned at conferences, and approximately 75% of participants developed new and useful professional contacts at the conferences.
Participants in the online local food systems course increased their overall average knowledge of local food systems by 61.5%, and 5 participants incorporated practices learned in the course into their programming after the first Unit.
These trainings also helped educators learn new teaching methods (from the trainers at the conferences/meetings) and become aware of new resources (websites, contacts, tools, etc.) that are useful to their work.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Approximately 90% of travel scholarship recipients used information gained from the conference(s) or meeting(s) they attended to answer client questions, distribute in a newsletter or other media outlet, or to develop programming to assist their clientele. Many participants noted that these scholarships give them invaluable opportunity to network and create new contacts at these conferences and meetings. New contacts in their field of interest help create new learning and marketing opportunities for their clientele and provide partners for conducting on-farm research and educational opportunities. These conferences and meetings also help participants become aware of new production, marketing, and economic resources for their farmer clients.
Nearly 60% of participants in the local food systems online course had already, or planned to, use information they learned in the course in their work in their counties. Participants had increased their knowledge of local food systems concepts by nearly 50% after the first unit of the course.
Comments from participants at the 2016 CFSA SAC:
“Every workshop I attended was helpful. Not often can that be said at a conference. I appreciate the attempt to cover as many aspects of agriculture as possible in such a short period of time. The presenters were professional, honest, and obviously had put a lot of thought into what they could share that would be the most valuable to the audience. WELL DONE! I can’t wait until next conference but first I have a lot of sharing to do!”
“Stellar conference as always. One of the best networking opportunities of my year. “
“Great conference, learned a lot and definitely met some wonderful contacts for future programs”
Comments on the Local Food System online course:
“I have already used parts of this class in local food policy council meetings and advisory council meetings. It has helped me to educate community members about the sectors of the food system and how we all play a part and what we can do to better the food system.”
“It has helped me to design more structured and efficient programming/efforts to reach specifically identified goals of the population I serve.”
Face of SARE
Notification of SARE grants, available SARE educational materials, and other educational program is accomplished through the NC SARE website (sustainableag.ces.ncsu.edu). To receive an NC SARE travel scholarship, the recipient must complete the basic level of the SSARE core curriculum. Selected SAN materials, SARE flyers, promotional materials, and information booklets are distributed to NC SARE Travel Scholarship recipients and the general public at the CFSA SAC. SARE materials were also available to all participants at the 2017 NC Extension Conference. NCSARE also tweets and retweets relevant SARE information, events, grant funds, and articles.