2019 Model State Program- North Carolina State University

Final report for SNC19-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $22,222.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2022
Grant Recipient: North Carolina State University
Region: Southern
State: North Carolina
State Coordinators:
Dr. Chris Reberg-Horton
North Carolina State University
Dr. Sanjun Gu
Virginia State University
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Project Information


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. NC SARE will consider scholarship applications for both in-state and out-state trainings. Possible trainings may include, but 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 providing sustainable agriculture educational materials, such as SARE publications, to trainers.

Project Objectives:

NC SARE’s main outreach objective in 2018-2019 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/farmers to attend the CFSA SAC,
• to 5-7 agents, personnel, and/or farmer to attend the SSAWG Conference,
• to 5-10 agents/personnel/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 reality, in 2018-2019, NC SARE was able to offer partial or full travel scholarships for professional development to 84 Extension personnel and agricultural professionals. Events included sending 27 Extension agents to the CFSA SAC, 10 agricultural professionals to SSAWG Conference, 10 agents to NC Choices’ Women in Meat Conference, 17 NC Educators to Local Foods Systems Professional Development Trainings, and 20 agents to the Specialty Crops Production and Marketing Workshop, as well as provide training materials for the NC Small Farm Field Day.

In addition to this year’s objectives, NC SARE had the pleasure to host the Southern SARE outreach team on a visit to North Carolina in September. During the visit, we were able to create collaborative ties between Southern SARE and NCSU/ NC A&T administrative officials as well as leaders of local non-profit organizations. Moreover, during the 2nd week of June, NC SARE will be hosting the SARE Fellows Program. During the week-long tour, fellows will have the opportunity to visit sustainable farming operations in Eastern and Western North Carolina as well as develop an understanding of our unique ecosystems and witness firsthand what it takes to be a successful farmer in the region.

The main objective for 2019-2020 will not change, however, the smaller objectives will. NC SARE plans to:
• Provide travel scholarships to approximately 25 agents/personnel/farmers to attend the CFSA SAC, 10 agents/personnel/farmers to attend the CMC,
• Provide 5-10 agents, personnel, and/or farmers to attend CEFS training events,
• Provide scholarships to 1-5 agents to attend other sustainable agriculture trainings 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 50 agents, personnel, and/or mentor farmers. We expect 25-30 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. The focused sustainable agriculture training for agents will be selected by the NC SARE Advisory Committee and Coordinators through a competitive process in order to select who receives 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 Agent or Specialist will develop and lead the training, and it will be available to up to 50+ agents/educators. Topics for this training could include, but are not limited to, cover crops, organic production, season extension, no-till/ conservation tillage, and local foods programs.

Sustainable agriculture trainings and travel scholarship opportunities will be publicized via the NC SARE website, twitter, and NC Extension Portal/ Intranet. 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 agriculture 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 Sustainable Agriculture Conference, Carolina Meat Conference, and the NC Extension Conference.

NC SARE travel scholarships provide NCCE educators and other agriculture 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 NCCE educators trained in sustainable agriculture.


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Educational approach:

NC SARE’s main outreach objective for 2019-2020 was to promote and help provide sustainable agriculture trainings for Cooperative Extension agents, NRCS, and Soil and Water, appropriate non-profits personnel and mentor farmers so that these agriculture leaders and educators can pass along information and knowledge of sustainable agriculture practices to farmers, landowners, and the public.

Some of these conferences and trainings were offered in person and some virtually with an array of topics with specific break outs sections as well as a virtual exhibit hall for demonstrations at virtual conference.

To achieve these goals NC SARE will provide support to professional conferences and training programs to organize, present, and or attend.

Topics included but not limited to were; beginning farmers, food safety, herbicides, composting, farm design for organic farming, waste management, bulk meat sales, farming on conservation land, seed selection, crop diversity and climate change, future of hemp, soil health, pest management, and creating meaningful financial analysis.

Conferences supported:

2019 Carolina Meat Conference.  Schedule — Carolina Meat ConferenceSpeakers — Carolina Meat Conference 

2019 CSFA conference   www.carolinafarmstewards.org/tage/2019-sustainable-agriculture-conference/     

7 agents received travel scholarships to receive training at the 2019 CFSA conference

16 agents received scholarships to received training at the 2020 CFSA conference.  Additional funds were given to provide trainers for virtual 2020 conference.

due to pandemic and carry over, some funds where used towards the 2020 CSFA conference  www.carolinafarmstewards.org/tage/2020-sustainable-agriculture-conference/

Awards were given for development of 2 new programs:

1 - Titled:  Improved nutrient cycling through better feed management -   teaching agents principles of ration balancing that will reduce nutrient excretion and improve whole farm nutrient balance;  demonstrating how incorporation of locally sourced feeds can close the nutrient cycle; and give agents tools to properly evaluate feeding programs.     Program had about 20 agents in attendance.

2. Sustainable Ag and IPM practices - establishing IPM demonstration  gardens.

Education & Outreach Initiatives


Provide NCCES educators, NC Soil and Water conservationists, and NC NRCS personnel opportunities to receive relevant trainings which suite the unique needs of the individual educators, their counties and their constituents.


The primary expected outcome is to have a broader base of NCCES educators trained in sustainable agriculture. These trainings helped educators learn new teaching methods and become aware of new resources (websites, contacts, tools, etc) that are useful to their work and have made them better educators.

Due to COVID -19 – the opportunity for conferences and trainings were limited, and the needs to provide training were different to translate them to a virtual platform.

-Support was given to support organizing the Carolina Meat Conference in Oct 2019

-travel scholarships were provided to approximately 7 agents/personnel/farmers to attend CFSA SAC in           November 2019

-scholarship was provided to approximately 16 agent/personnel/farmers to attend the virtual CFSA SAC       in November 2020

-provided for presenters/trainers/speakers for the CFSA SAC

-provided 2 Outstanding Educator awards to support their programs

Due to many conferences/trainings being cancelled due to COVID-19 – not all funds were used.  These have been designated to provide support toward 2021-2022 training opportunities, in-person and/or virtual.  NCE approved.

Outcomes and impacts:

From the 2 educator awards provided:

1 - was able to establish IPM demonstration gardens - which allows for hands on training opportunities.

2.  was able to establish a new program teaching agents the principles to improve feed management through nutrient cycling.

Educational & Outreach Activities

20 Consultations
1 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
1 On-farm demonstrations
1 Online trainings
23 Travel Scholarships

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

2 New working collaborations
22 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
Additional Outcomes:

Educators to the agricultural community have gained or increased their knowledge and skills to impart a breath of information on best practices, strategies and approaches to constituents, clients, farmers, for increased yields, profits, and sustainability in agriculture.  These trained professionals have become a key resource for those in the agriculture community to reach out to tackle issues that arise and learning.


Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

Notification of SARE grants, available SARE educational materials, and other educational programs is accomplished through the North Carolina Cooperative Extension web portal and listservs. 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 most of the sponsored educational events with the exception of out of state conferences. NC SARE also tweets and retweets relevant SARE information, events, grant funds, and articles

150 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
123 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.