2023 Southern Model State Program - Program Assistant for Tennessee State University

Progress report for STN23-A002

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $33,000.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2024
Grant Recipient: Tennessee State University
Region: Southern
State: Tennessee
State Coordinator:
Dr. Jason deKoff
Tennessee State University
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Project Information


The main responsibility of the program assistant position is to ensure that objectives in the SARE PDP Model State Program are completed timely and efficiently.  This will entail the following individual responsibilities:

  • coordination of efforts between the SARE State Coordinators and SARE program assistants including participation in regular meetings and meetings with SARE advisory committee
  • submission of future SARE Model State Program proposals and reporting
  • communications for Tennessee SARE programming through social media, website, newsletters, and design of flyers and slides for dissemination purposes
  • engagement of stakeholders through in-person and virtual presentations focused on SARE funding, projects, and materials
  • engagement with other SARE program personnel
  • other duties as assigned
Project Objectives:
  1. Engage in train-the-trainer programming for agents, local officials, and farmers focused on sustainable poultry production.

                The overall objectives are i) understand the feeding practices for small flock chickens (meat, egg-type and dual-purpose breed) and document the nutrient profile of mixed feed and feed ingredients that are commonly used by poultry producers in TN, ii) train county agents (and poultry producers) on the breed and age specific nutrient requirements and educate on feeding strategies.

A survey will be sent to small flock poultry producers in TN to understand feeding practices. Farmers will be identified through the database from TSU Small Farm Expo, TN New Farmer Academy and other producer trainings and Extension networks.

The findings of survey will dictate the type of chicken breed the producers rear, feeding practices, and feed and feed ingredient types utilized for their birds. Breed specific balanced feeding ration will be devised and proposed utilizing the commonly used feed ingredients by the small flock producers using formulation software Concept 5 or Brill. Feed ingredient proximate analyses for commonly utilized ingredients and mixed feeds will be conducted to identify updated and precise values for ingredients to feed the software. A train-the-trainer module will then be developed on nutrient requirements and balanced feeding strategies for egg-type, meat-type, and dual-purpose breeds. The module on feeding practices will be utilized to train 45 county agents and small flock poultry producers through training workshops held in West, Middle, and East Tennessee. The tentative topics of the workshops include breed specific nutrient requirements, feed and feed ingredients commonly utilized by TN small flock producers and understanding cost-effective feed formulation, and feeding strategies for egg-type, meat-type and dual-purpose breeds. Hands-on dietary formulation strategies will be emphasized in the training.

  1. Engage in train-the-trainer programming for agents, local officials, and farmers focused on heirs’ property.

The overall objectives of this project are to i) understand the specificities of heirs’ property issues in Tennessee, ii) train extension agents and limited resource farmers on how to address and prevent heirs’ property issues in Tennessee, iii) facilitate the connection between farmers and legal service providers on heirs’ property, iv) disseminate information to farmers on heirs’ property through fact sheets and short videos

A survey on heirs’ property will be conducted at the community level. The survey will address (1) needs expressed by farmers on heirs’ property and (2) impacts of heirs’ property issues on farm operations and success.  This survey will be used to inform specific needs for the train-the-trainer workshops and will be provided as a community report to all Tennessee Extension agents with Agriculture and Natural Resources responsibilities.  A train-the-trainer module will then be developed focused on the needs identified and implemented, one in each of the three regions of Tennessee to train 45 county agents and farmers.  Other outputs include a fact sheet and video on heirs’ property, and a list of lawyers, legal services, and stakeholders working on heirs’ property that will be made available.  It is expected that some of these professionals will serve as trainers during the train-the-trainer workshops.  All materials will be made available to extension agents and farmers through the TSU Cooperative Extension Program website, the TSU Center for Regional Economic Development and Entrepreneurship website, and social media.

  1. Engage Extension agents in training focused on sustainable agriculture through current in-state and out-of-state programs. Additional program funds will be used to provide travel funding to agents to engage in other train-the-trainer opportunities, particularly in other states, to provide a diversity of knowledge on sustainable agriculture production methods. The specific subject areas will be based on agent and farmer needs as these needs and events are identified throughout the year.  These programs will be evaluated by the individual agents with respect to the material learned and how the material will be incorporated into future trainings for farmers.  They will also present their training experiences to other agents at their regional program planning meetings held within each region of the state.
  2. Engage in marketing of SARE grant funding opportunities, current and previous SARE projects in Tennessee, SARE materials through virtual and in-person methods. These will include the use of social media, newsletters, videos, and presentations and exhibits at trade shows, Ag days, conferences, and other meetings within Tennessee.  The TSU program assistant position will engage in developing social media content using material from SARE publications in order to build upon existing networks, and expand the reach of SARE in Tennessee and abroad by providing relevant, important information on a daily basis.  A monthly newsletter will also be created that will include digitally designed materials based on content from SARE publications, snapshots of current and previous SARE programs in Tennessee, and pertinent deadlines for SARE grant opportunities.  The initial mailing list will include existing networks from TSU and UT such as Tennessee commodity groups, partners, organizations, and farmers via email databases from previous Extension events.  Images, video, and content will be created and updated on a Tennessee SARE website.  The TSU and UT program assistants and state coordinators will work together to provide presentations and exhibits across the state highlighting the SARE program and sustainable agriculture in Tennessee to increase awareness and engagement.
  3. Engage in collaboration with UT and other partners to ensure a seamless, efficient programming related to sustainable agriculture programs. Tennessee State University and UT SARE program assistants and state coordinators will meet regularly to discuss current SARE train-the-trainer programs and opportunities for agents and strategize on best methods for advertising the current programs and opportunities, utilizing the advisory committee, engaging partners, identifying new partners, collecting agent needs, and engaging in events across the state.  Program evaluation and reporting from existing SARE programs will also be a part of these meetings.  The Tennessee SARE team will also engage with the advisory committee to identify sustainable agriculture needs in Tennessee and assist with marketing and program promotion needs.


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  • Jason de Koff


Educational approach:

N/A, we are still trying to hire a Program Assistant.

Education & Outreach Initiatives





Project Outcomes

Additional Outcomes:




Face of SARE

Face of SARE:


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.