North Carolina SARE (NC SARE) is a collaborative effort from North Carolina State University (NCSU) and North Carolina Agriculture & Technical State University (NCA& T). NC SARE promotes sustainable agriculture in North Carolina and supports sustainable agriculture trainings for agriculture professionals, which Include North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service (NCCES) professionals and other educators defined by Southern SARE.
NC SARE offers sustainable agriculture trainings primarily through competitive travel scholarships. These travel scholarships benefit agriculture professionals at all levels as educators may apply for trainings that best suit their service regions/counties’ needs and resources, as well as their own level of expertise. Applications for technical and educational training in any area of sustainable agriculture can be submitted. Possible trainings may include, but are not limited to, the annual Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference (CFSA SAC), the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) Workshops, the Carolina Meat Conference, and NCSU and NCA& T Field Days. NC SARE also offers the NC SARE Outstanding NCCES Educator award, in partnership with CFSA. This year, NC SARE will also begin providing competitive funding to Extension Specialists to provide a focused training to NCCES agents in a topic of sustainable agriculture. Guided by the Advisory Council, NC SARE has been a visible presence in NC sustainable agriculture and publicizing events through its website, the NC Extension portal, and Twitter, and providing sustainable agriculture educational materials, such as SARE publications, to trainers.
NC SARE’s main outreach objective in 2016-2017 was to promote and help provide sustainable agriculture trainings for Cooperative Extension agents, NRCS and Soli 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. To achieve this main objective, NC SARE had the smaller objectives of provide travel scholarships for professional development:
• to at least 30 agents, personnel, and/or farmers to attend the CFSA Sustainable Ag Conference (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.
In 2016-2017, NC SARE was able to send 35 Extension agents to the CFSA SAC, 6 agents to SSAWG Conference, 5 agents to a specialized Local Foods training, and 5 agents to the American Forage and Grasslands Council Conference, as well as provide training materials for the NC Small Farm Field Day.
The main objective for 2017-2018 will not change, however, the smaller objectives will. NC SARE plans to:
• provide travel scholarships to approximately 20 agents/personnel/farmers to attend the CFSA SAC, 10 agents / personnel / farmers to attend the Carolina Meat Conference, and 5 agents / personnel / farmers to attend the SSAWG Conference,
• Provide funds for training materials for the NC Small Farm Field Day
• Provide funds for a focused, Extension-led, training for agents on a specialized aspect of sustainable agriculture
We expect to offer travel scholarships and trainings to a total of approximately 50 agents, personnel, and/or mentor farmers. We expect 30-40 agents, personnel, and mentor farmers to participate in the NC Small Farm Field Day, which provides excellent training on production and marketing information for small farms, as well as season extension, hoop house production, and the latest research applicable to small farms in NC. The focused sustainable agriculture training for agents will be selected by the NC SARE Advisory Committee and Coordinators through a competitive process for the training funds. The training will be chosen based on SARE priority areas for education in sustainable agriculture, the strength and practicality of the training, and how many agents can participate. An Extension Specialist will develop and lead the training, and it will be available to up to 50 Extension agents. Topics for this training could include, but are not limited to, cover crops, organic production, season extension, no-till/conservation tillage, and local foods.
Sustainable agriculture trainings and travel scholarship opportunities will be publicized via the NC SARE website, twitter, and NC Extension Portal. NC SARE manages the 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 ag training events and scholarships, as well as sustainable ag news from SARE. NC SARE outreach includes setting up information booths at major sustainable NC agriculture events, including the CFSA SAC, Carolina Meat Conference, and the NC Extension Conference. NC SARE travel scholarships provide NCCES educators and other ag resource professionals the opportunity 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.
In 2017-2018, NC SARE offered travel scholarships to the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s annual Sustainable Agriculture Conference (CFSA SAC), the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) Workshops, NC Choices’ Carolina Meat Conference, and the SARE national 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.
This year, NC SARE will also begin providing competitive funding to Extension Specialists to provide a focused training to NCCES agents in a topic of sustainable agriculture. Guided by the Advisory Council, NC SARE has been a visible presence in NC sustainable agriculture and publicizing events through its website, the NC Extension portal, and Twitter, and providing sustainable agriculture educational materials, such as SARE
publications, to trainers.
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 Agriculture Conference, Carolina Meat Conference, Small Farm Field Days and various workshops. 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 22 Extension educators to attend the 2017 Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference, 52 Extension educators to attend 2017 Carolina Meat Conference, 15 Extension educators to attend the 2017 American Forage and Grasslands Council annual meeting, and 8 agriculture educators and advisers to the Southern SAWWG annual conference. We also provided funding to send 2 Extension Agents to the National SARE Conference.
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.
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
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 2018 NC Extension Conference. NC SARE also tweets and retweets relevant SARE information, events, grant funds, and articles.