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 (NCCE) 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 NC Choices’ Carolina Meat Conference/ Women Working in the Meat Industry (CMC/WIM), and NCSU and NCA&T Field Days. NC SARE also offers the NC SARE Outstanding NCCE Educator award, in partnership with CFSA. This year, NC SARE will begin providing competitive funding to Extension Educators to provide a focused training to NCCE 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 2017-2018 was 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 educators and leaders
can pass on information and knowledge of sustainable agriculture practices to farmers, landowners, and the public. To achieve this main objective, NC SARE changed the smaller objectives to provide travel scholarships for professional development:
• to approximately 20 agents, personnel and/or farmers to attend the CFSA Sustainable Agriculture Conference;
• to 5 agents, personnel, and/or farmer to attend the SSAWG Conference;
• to 10 agents, personnel, and/or farmers to attend the CMC/WIM;
• to provide funds for agents, personnel, and/or farmers to attend CEFS or other training events;
• to provide funds for training materials for the NC Small Farms Field Days.
In 2017-2018, NC SARE was able to offer partial or full travel scholarships for professional development to 100 Extension personnel. Events included sending 25 Extension agents to the CFSA SAC, 10 agricultural professionals to SSAWG Conference, 50 agents to NC Choices’
CMC/WIM, and 15 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 2018-2019 will not change, however, the smaller objectives will. NC SARE plans to:
• Provide travel scholarships to approximately 13 agents/personnel/farmers to attend the CFSA SAC, 9 agents/personnel/farmers to attend the CMC/WIM;
• Provide 5-10 agents, personnel, and/or farmers to attend CEFS training events;
• Provide scholarships to 1-5 agents to attend other sustainable agriculture training that become available in NC;
• Provide funds for training materials for the NCA&T Small Farms Field Day;
• Provide funds for a focused, Extension Specialist-led training for agents on a specialized
aspect of sustainable agriculture.
We expect to offer travel scholarships and trainings to a total of approximately 24 agents, personnel, and/or mentor farmers. We expect 30-40 agents, personnel, and mentor farmers to participate in the NC Small Farms Field Days, which provides excellent training on production and marketing information for small farms, and the latest research applicable to small farms in NC. Sustainable agriculture trainings and travel scholarship opportunities will be publicized via the NC SARE website, twitter, and NC Extension Portal/ Intranet.
In 2018-2019, 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’ Women in Meat Conference, and also helped fund the Small Farm Field Day at NC A&T University. In addition, this year we received enhancement funds to provide scholarships for Extension Agents to attend the Organic Commodities & Livestock Conference in February. 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. 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 to expand and solidify their resources.
Moreover, NC SARE will continue to provide competitive funding to Extension Specialist to provide focused training to NCCES agents in a topic of sustainable agriculture. Through this award, NC SARE provided 19 scholarships for Extension educators and other advisors to particpate in the Local Food Systems development certificate. 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/Women in 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 27 Extension educators to attend the 2018 Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference, 10 Extension educators to attend 2018 Women in Meat Conference, 20 Extension educators to attend the 2018 Organic Commodities & Livestock Conference, and 10 agriculture educators and advisers to the Southern SAWWG annual conference. We provided funding for a special training in specialty crops and marketing for 20 Extension educators, as well as provided funding for a local foods systems online training certificate for 19 Extension educators.
Based on the post conference surveys distributed to the travel scholarship recipients, over 91% of participants in the conferences used information they learned to answer public/client questions as well as incorporate ideas learned into their regular programming. Over 58% 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 45%, and 3 participants incorporated practices learned in the course into their programming.
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 and have made them better educators.
Educational & Outreach Activities
Approximately 91% of travel scholarship recipients used information gained from the conference(s) or meeting(s) they attended to answer client questions or to develop programming to assist their clientele. Moreover, many participants noted that these travel scholarships gave them invaluable opportunity to network and create new contacts at these conferences and meetings. The majority of participants said that attending the conference helped them become aware of a new production, marketing or economic resource that they could teach to their clients.
Almost 90% said that they would apply for the scholarship again if it became available, and would love to hear about more opportunities for training in sustainable agriculture. Some comments from the 2018 CFSA SAC include:
“Always a great conference, look forward to next year.”
“The topics in this conference are fantastic.”
“The CFSA Conference is the best conference for my area.”
Face of SARE
Notification of SARE grants, available SARE educational materials, and other educational program is accomplished through the NC SARE website. 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. NC SARE also tweets and retweets relevant SARE information, events, grant funds, and articles.