STN17-001 Model State Program

Final report for STN17-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2017: $55,555.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2020
Grant Recipient: University of Tennessee
Region: Southern
State: Tennessee
State Coordinator:
Rob Holland
UT Extension
Expand All

Project Information


The overall objective of the Tennessee Model State Program is to include all parts of SARE into a seamless program. Interactions and feedback will occur within all categories of SARE proposals and grants. One major difference in the previous work and the model program is the increased emphasis on communications and publicity.

The University of Tennessee and Tennessee State University have made a strong commitment of resources to train agricultural professionals in the concepts of sustainable agriculture. The Program Assistant and SARE State Coordinators will keep the SARE website up to date. In 2017-2018, intensive training will be conducted in application of agriculture policy, risk management, local food systems, value added and alternative enterprises. The expected outcome is for the program in Tennessee to contribute to the overall mission of Southern SARE and meet the needs of Tennesseans.

Project Objectives:

Outreach objectives for Tennessee will address critical needs outlined in the current and revised plan and identified as priorities by the State Sustainable Agriculture Advisory committee. The overall objective of the Model Tennessee Program is to include all parts of SARE R&E, PDP, On-Farm Research, Sustainable Community, Producer and Graduate Student Grants into a seamless program.

This plan will prepare Extension agents, Extension area specialists, NGO personnel, state and local government employees, and farmer trainers with necessary tools to assist new and existing producers who are interested in pursuing sustainable agricultural production. Educators will instruct producers on sustainable agricultural management, production, finance, and risk management matters that ensure environmental stewardship, economic viability and community development.

Interactions and feedback will occur within proposals and grants related to research, producer grants, on-farm research grants, professional development training and graduate student awards. The expected outcome is for the program in Tennessee to contribute to the overall mission of Southern SARE and meet the needs of Tennesseans. The mission of SARE is "to expand knowledge and adoption of sustainable agriculture practices that are economically viable, environmentally sound and good for all members of the community."

Accomplishing the above mission will involve all parts of the sustainable agriculture program coming together. The final outcome is to develop, test, demonstrate, and evaluate technology and systems that will be required to create and maintain sustainable (efficient, competitive, profitable, environmentally and socially acceptable) farming operations over the next several decades. The program will also focus on the quality of life in both the overall rural areas engaged in agriculture and at the farm-level where production occurs.

In summary, the funds will be utilized effectively to improve communications, reach out to new audiences, enhance efforts with traditional audiences, and provide a consistent message about sustainable agriculture. Details related to how the money will be utilized effectively are contained in the sections of the proposal addressing responsibilities of the Program Assistant and delivery approaches.


  • Cindy Delvin
  • Fitzroy Bullock
  • Delton Gerloff
  • Ken Goddard
  • John Heifner
  • Jim Joyner
  • Frank Rodgers
  • Aaron Smith


Educational approach:

The Tennessee project utilizes the traditional and trademark approach to SARE educational programming – namely “train the trainer.” Through our tours, workshops and in-service training, our specialists and experienced Extension professionals educate Extension agents, area specialists and producers.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Small Farm Sustainability

Teach and educate agricultural professionals, officials, and farmers in sustainable production practices.


A small farm expo was held where agricultural experts taught sustainable production practices, including organic urban agriculture, portable livestock fencing, greenhouse gas emissions, and soybean genomic research to agricultural professionals and farmers.

Outcomes and impacts:

Reached over 300 agricultural experts, farmers, students, and officials attended. Topics ranged from organic agriculture to cattle and goat research.

Nursery, Greenhouse and Turf Management

Teach and educate Extension agents and producers sustainable and profitable production and marketing ideas and techniques to increase profitability and sustainability.


o UT Extension Eastern Region Nursery, Greenhouse and Landscaping Tour: 39 nursery growers, landscapers and Extension agents from 18 counties participated in a three-day tour, visiting innovative nurseries in Georgia and South Carolina and increasing their knowledge of improved marketing practices, new and innovative plant materials, and new production technologies. 

Outcomes and impacts:

Nursery growers reported an average economic impact of over $6,250 per operation. Total estimated economic impact was $166,725. Participants agreed 100% that the educational tour was beneficial and would recommend it to other nursery producers and landscapers.

Farm and Financial Management

Teach and educate Extension agents and specialists on topics pertaining to farm and financial management.


o Agricultural & Resource Economics and Area Specialists Farm Management Workshop: Area and state Extension specialists received FINPACK training for use in farm financial planning and discussed a new opportunity in West Tennessee regarding a poultry processing facility and how to develop a plan based on the risk of a new industry. Also, they held a session on the SARE program in Tennessee and discussed sustainable agriculture program planning.

Outcomes and impacts:

Through the training we were better able to assess the financial situation and our follow-up educational programming for the upcoming year. 


Teach Extension Agents about the sustainability of Southern forests.


o TN Association of Agricultural Agents & Specialists: Provided support for this educational program that included a seminar from Virginia Dale, director of the Center for BioEnergy Sustainability at ORNL, and from the U.S. Forestry Service regarding data collection and how it is used to determine the health and sustainability of Southern forests. A total of 35 agents/specialists attended the tour.

Outcomes and impacts:

A total of 35 agents/specialists were trained in sustainable forestry programs which they can in turn use to teach producers. 

Sustainable Agricultural Production

Share with other states the sustainable agricultural ventures and research currently ongoing in Tennessee.


o Southern SARE Administrative Council & State Coordinators Training: Tennessee served as the host state this year, where two farms were toured (both recipients of SARE grants). TSU’s Agricultural Research and Education Center also hosted a tour, which featured an educational session on goats. Additional support was provided in order to accomplish the needs as a host state. Sustainable agriculture was featured and taught at each tour, in addition to the traditional training agenda. Council members, program assistants and state coordinators from the 13-state Southern region were part of this annual meeting.

Outcomes and impacts:

Council members, program assistants and state coordinators from the 13-state Southern region were able to view projects that can be a part of educational programs in their respective states. 

Educational & Outreach Activities

500 Consultations
10 On-farm demonstrations
2 Tours
5 Travel Scholarships
3 Workshop field days
1,049 Other educational activities: Web site views.

Participation Summary:

80 Extension
50 Researchers
50 Agency
50 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
339 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

Additional Outcomes:

Our TN SARE site received 1,049 views and 720 sessions.

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

The SARE program is well-known in Tennessee. Information is shared with Extension agents and specialists via our website, emails, and public meetings. Our Program Assistant fields numerous calls each year from individuals requesting more information regarding grants and opportunities. Often, these contacts are paired up with the appropriate UT or TSU specialist for additional assistance on the given commodity.

250 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
125 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.