2021 Tennessee Model State Program

Progress report for STN21-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $22,222.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2022
Grant Recipient: University of Tennessee
Region: Southern
State: Tennessee
State Coordinators:
Rob Holland
UT Extension
Dr. Jason deKoff
Tennessee State University
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Project Information


The University of Tennessee and Tennessee State University look to continue the sustainable agriculture training the SARE program offers to Extension agents, specialists and other agriculture professionals.  In meeting training needs we will look to gather input from regional agriculture program leaders, Extension agents, program partners, producers and continued input from the state SARE Advisory Committee.  The program assistant will continue to  promote awareness of the SARE program, along with a secondary focus on the SARE grant programs, encouraging and promoting this program.  The state co-coordinators working with the program assistant will seek to provide opportunities for more in-depth training related to sustainable agriculture.  This will help to develop training with a more direct program focus.  All training opportunities provided will be in-line with the mission of SARE:

Profitability for the farm

Care of the water/land resources 

Improving the quality of life

Focus on production

We will also work with agriculture professionals that find other training opportunities to participate in as long as these trainings relate to the mission of the SARE program.  These will be treated on a case-by-case basis and the determination of these trainings in meeting the mission of SARE will be determined by the state co-coordinators and the program assistant.  All trainees will be required to report on their training opportunities so program impact can be determined and reported.  Impacts will be provided in the annual SARE report and the proper Extension reporting areas.  Department information sheets will be developed on major program impacts/research.

Project Objectives:

Project Objectives will focus on teaching/instruction to Extension Agents, Subject Matter Specialists and other Agriculture Professionals to increase knowledge in sustainable agriculture and the role it plays in the industry by during 2021 - 2022:

  • Conducting In-service training sessions
  • Promoting participation in meetings and conferences
  • Promoting awareness of the SARE program with an exhibit at meetings, tradeshows and agents/specialists’ meetings
  • Promoting the SARE program through the New Farmer Academies conducted in Tennessee – three of these are held annually in the state
  • Providing educational materials on sustainable agriculture to Extension Agents
  • Evaluating programs to show knowledge level change in agents, specialists and other agriculture professionals
  • Trainers reporting practice changes noted/reported by producers
  • These evaluations/practice changes will be shown in SARE annual reports and departmental information sheets developed


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Finis Stribling (Educator)
  • Jenni Goodrich (Educator)
  • Annette Wszelaki (Educator)
  • Stephanie Henley (Educator)
  • Roy Bullock (Educator)
  • Rob Holland (Educator)
  • Jason De Koff (Educator)
  • Heather Slayton (Educator)
  • Trent Cash (Educator)


Educational approach:

In 2021 - 2022, the following subject areas will be addressed to have a comprehensive program for agents that have an interest in the SARE program and sustainable enterprises:

  • Soil Health in Greenhouses/Hoop Houses
  • Farm and Financial Management
  • Sustainable Agriculture Training for Extension Agents – (small fruits/vegetables, pollination, the use of drones in agriculture, specialty crops, budgeting for the small/sustainable farm, cover crops – information about and management of, and other topics to be determined)
  • Sustainable Meat Production Practices
  • Southern SARE Grant Programs Available
  • Promote Women in Agriculture Program

These items will serve as the focus of the SARE educational program, but as things change throughout the year, new and emerging issues will also be addressed if needed.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Sustainable Agriculture In-service Training (Extension Agents)

Agents to receive training that will assist them in providing information to producers/clients to emphasize sustainable agriculture relating to profitability, good land stewardship, protecting the health and safety of people and animals, enhancing quality of life and strengthening rural communities.


Sustainable Agriculture Training sponsored by SARE; the first day of training will touch on a variety of subjects relating to sustainable agriculture.  The training was held in close proximity to the Pick TN Conference in the Franklin, TN, area;  Central Region Extension Office, Nashville, TN, 5201 Marchant Dr, Nashville, 37211, a 2.5 hour classroom training on sustainable agriculture was held. A tour of Bloomsbury Farms in the edge of Rutherford County, was held later in the afternoon to view their production/marketing techniques on their certified organic farm  https://www.bloomsburyfarms.com/ 

2022 Agenda 

Training for day two was held in conjunction with the Pick TN Conference, Cool Springs Marriott, 700 Cool Springs Blvd., Franklin, TN 37067.  The day began at 9AM and was completed at 2PM Central Time.  agents were provided with an acceptable list of trainings to attend.  Each participant will select four (4) sessions to attend during this time period, and one will include a lunch and learn session.



Outcomes and impacts:

Twenty-six Extension agents participated in this two-day in-service training focusing on Sustainable Agriculture.  This training consisted of the following learning opportunities:

  • Classroom Training
    • Drones in Agriculture - Types of drones, options & costs, laws and regulations
    • Environmental Stewardship - Working with TN Farm Bureau and UT Extension Specialist to form a partnership with SARE in Tennessee, placing more emphasis on the Environmental Stewardship award given annually to a Young Farmer & Rancher  in this TN Farm Bureau Program
    • SARE Program Updates - TN SARE Program Updates, educational books and opportunities
    • Organics - Information presented by a UT Extension Agent on how other agents can be better prepared to answer questions from clientele about organics
    • Honeybee Stewardship/Field Watch - Value of pollinators, hive products, understanding pesticides, bee biology basics and information on FieldCheck - applicators can access grower and apiary information
  • Farm Tour
    • Group toured Bloomsbury Farm in Middle TN - GAP and Organic Certified farm  - distributing products to wholesale and retail locations and restaurants as well as having a CSA
  • Pick TN Products Conference
    • Day two of the in-service consisted of the group attending four different learning sessions at this conference with a focus on sustainable agriculture.

A follow-up survey will be done with agents attending this training.

Horticulture and Specialty Crops

The Pick Tennessee Conference provides Extension agents with training on a variety of horticultural, small fruits, vegetables and agritourism topics. It also allows Extension Agents the opportunity to network with up to eight different Tennessee Producer Associations during the three-day conference.


Trainings, informational sessions and farm tours are conducted on vegetable production, beekeeping, specialty crops, small/beginning farmer programs, TN AgrAbility, organic production, cut flowers, farmers market and a variety of other topics that are of interest to Extension Agents, producers, other agriculture professionals and industry representatives.  This three-day event is conducted by eight different Tennessee Producer Associations with assistance from the University of Tennessee and Tennessee State University.  2022+Pick+TN+Conf+Agenda


Outcomes and impacts:

Twenty-six Extension Agents attended four sessions at the Pick TN Conference as described above in the Sustainable Agriculture In-service.  A total of sixteen Extension Agents attended sessions each day of the three-day conference.  (Some of this number is part of the twenty-six while four other agents were taking part in this educational program.)

Some of the comments from agents in attendance:

  • Grant and loan opportunities - "Great job of speakers laying out all of the grant and loan options for different types of producers.  I will be making copies of one presentation to give out to people who ask about grant/loan opportunities."
  • Stepping up your social media - The presenter gave an event plan on what you should be doing and when you should be doing it to prepare for an event on your farm.  He suggested that farms start to ticket events at their farm and get a TikTok account.  
  • The Pick TN Conference allowed me to network with specialties, representatives from businesses (very useful to commercial fruit and vegetable growers), and provided information for me to better help farmers in Bledsoe County. Many of the representatives at the trade show, I will contact and invite them to attend the Bledsoe County Fruit and Vegetable Meeting.
  • I am grateful for the opportunity to attend the PICK TN conference in Franklin, TN. This week has allowed me to brush up on my Horticulture knowledge in order to meet the needs of my clientele.  I learned about things such as biological controls, various plant diseases and insect pests in home gardens and orchards, and pollinator conversation. I plan to take these topics that I have learned and use them in my county. I can use the knowledge about diseases and pests to better help producers and homeowners identify the problems that they are facing in their gardens. I intend to use biological controls as a sustainable practice to implement into IPM programs. I intend to use pollinator conservation in hopes of starting pollinator habitat areas within my county. 

  • Thanks for letting me come to the conference. As a new agent this was very helpful to gather some resources I have learned from this weekend and meet some other agents from around the state.

Educational & Outreach Activities

40 Consultations
30 Travel Scholarships
9 Webinars / talks / presentations
2 Other educational activities: TN SARE Program Exhibit @ Farmer Veteran Coalition Eastern Region Meeting, Knoxville, TN; Farmer Veteran Coalition Meeting of Tennessee, Murfreesboro, TN

Participation Summary:

75 Extension
351 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes


As work continues in this MSP, efforts will be made to better evaluate programming and reach out to agriculture professionals to determine the number they have reached in providing sustainable agriculture information too.


Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

The SARE program is a great benefit to agriculture professionals in Tennessee by providing a means to learn more about sustainable agriculture.  This work is accomplished by:

  • Providing travel scholarships 
  • Providing SARE Educational Resources to New Farmer Academy participants
  • Involvement in regional and state professional development meetings
  • Educational Exhibit at field days and other educational meetings
  • Participating in Small Farm Expo with TN State University
  • Promotion of SARE Grant Programs
  • Working closely with TN State University and UT Extension
  • Visits with agriculture professionals 
  • Personal and group emails
351 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
40 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.