2020 Model State Program- Texas A&M University

Progress report for STX20-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2020: $22,222.00
Projected End Date: 06/30/2021
Grant Recipient: Texas A&M University
Region: Southern
State: Texas
State Coordinator:
Dr. Diane Boellstorff
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service
Expand All

Project Information

Abstract:

The Texas Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Committee meets annually to oversee the state program for training agricultural professionals in concepts of sustainable agriculture. For the reporting period, the program involved a multifaceted effort that provided opportunities to be trained or to participate in delivering training for mentor producers, county Extension agents, various groundwater district personnel, NRCS personnel, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality personnel, Texas Alliance of Groundwater District personnel, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation personnel, Soil and Water Conservation District personnel, NGOs and other agricultural professionals and also incorporates concepts of sustainable agriculture in existing, statewide training efforts. These training opportunities include conferences, field meetings and workshops held at various locations in Texas.

Another approach of the Texas Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Committee is to support travel and/or registration costs of selected professionals to regional and national conferences on sustainable agriculture, with the intent of participants gaining knowledge and skills that they will share with other agricultural professionals in Texas.

Program evaluation was accomplished with pre- and post-tests designed to measure knowledge gained by participating in educational programs. A subset of attendees are e-mailed an additional survey instrument four to eight months after the training to determine if participants have adopted any of the sustainable concepts presented. The aim of the evaluation is assess knowledge gained and to determine whether the new knowledge is being applied in new or ongoing programs for their clientele.

Project Objectives:

• Annually conduct training for new employees of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension (AgriLife) and the Cooperative Extension Program (CEP) at Prairie View A&M University regarding sustainable agricultural practices and Southern Region SARE programs. Goal of training 20 new employees.
• Annually include USDA – Farm Service Agency (FSA), USDA- Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) and Farm Credit System personnel in seminars and trainings regarding sustainable agriculture practices and Southern Region SARE programs held locally or on a state-wide basis. Goal of training 20 USDA and Farm Credit personnel.
• Annually participate in three outreach efforts, such as field days and industry conferences, to inform producers and agricultural professionals regarding the SARE program. Goal of reaching 500 agricultural professionals.
• Maintain a website to provide timely and updated information related to SARE and the SARE grant program to Texas clientele. Goal of 500 “hits” on updated website.
• Annually conduct training for Extension agents and agency staffs to learn to instruct socially disadvantaged farmers, landowners and community leaders, including African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, women and persons who have limited resources of land, labor and capital regarding sustainable agriculture practices and Southern Region SARE programs. Goal of training 20 Extension agents and/or agency personnel.

Introduction:

The program involves a multifaceted effort that provides training opportunities for County Extension Agents, FSA personnel, NRCS personnel, producers, and other agricultural professionals and also incorporates concepts of sustainable agriculture in existing, state-wide training efforts. These training opportunities include conferences, field meetings and workshops held at various locations in Texas.
Projects designed to train Extension agents from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Prairie View A&M Cooperative Extension will meet agent’s requests for sustainable information to assist local farmers. Concepts of sustainable agriculture have been and will continue to be disseminated through new agents’ training, leadership training, seminars, workshops, farm tours, publications, websites, manuals, videos and other events (e-mail, telephone contacts, farm visits, etc.).
Sustainable agriculture training for agents, agency personnel and mentor farmers should show impacts across Texas with advances in the areas of food and fiber production, environmental awareness and protection, organic, IPM and alternate production methods, marketing, farmer cooperation and development of multi- disciplinary teams to reach common goals. Administrative success stories and awards should reflect these programs teaching sustainable practices.
Extension agents and other Extension personnel will indicate an increased knowledge of sustainable agriculture and sustainable production techniques by reporting contacts, outcomes and narratives regarding educational activities on monthly state-wide reports available to program coordinators in the form of contacts, subject material, narratives, evaluations and on-farm contacts or sustainable demonstration projects.

Advisors

Click linked name(s) to expand
  • Derrick Banks (Educator)
  • Brent Batchelor (Educator)
  • Sue Beckwith(Educator/Farmer)
  • Kim Benton(Educator)
  • Dr. Diane Boellstorff(Educator)
  • Mark Burow(Dairy Goat Farmer)
  • Brandi Chandler(Educator)
  • Dr. Jason Cleere(Educator/Rancher)
  • Dr. Doug Constance(Educator)
  • Dr. Megan Clayton(Educator/Rancher)
  • Stedman Douglas(Educator)
  • Johnie DeBara(Farmer)
  • Dr. Nelson Daniels(Educator)
  • Monty Dozier(Educator/Rancher)
  • Dr. Rebekka Dudending(Educator)
  • Roy Flora(Educator/Rancher)
  • Ashley Gregory(Educator)
  • Mengmeng Gu(Educator)
  • Kesha Henry(Educator)
  • Jennifer Herrara(Educator)
  • Corey Hicks(Educator)
  • Horace Hodge(Researcher/Rancher)
  • Boone Holiday(Educator/Farmer)
  • Brent Johnson(Farmer)
  • Sercy Jordan(Farmer)
  • Jackie King(Rancher)
  • Mandy Krause(Educator/Rancher)
  • Travis Krause(Educator/Rancher)
  • Dr. Patrick Lillard(Educator)
  • Susie Marshall(Educator/Farmer)
  • Dr. Craig Coufal(Educator/Farmer)
  • Dr. Joe Masabni(Educator)
  • Rene McCracken(Educator/Farmer
  • Justin Meckell(Farmer/Rancher)
  • Laura Miller(Educator/Farmer)
  • Mike Morris(Educator)
  • Kimberly Perry(Educator)
  • Jerome Peters(Farmer)
  • Betsy Pierson(Educator)
  • Dr. Reed Redden(Educator/Rancher)
  • Robert "Skip" Richter(Educator)
  • Andrew Smiley(Educator)
  • John W. Smith(Educator/Rancher)
  • Barbara Storz(Educator/Farmer)
  • Brad Stufflebeam(Educator/Farm
  • Todd Swift(Educator/Rancher)
  • Ricky Thompson(Educator/Rancher
  • Leo Williams(Rancher)
  • Diane Woods(Educator/Farmer)
  • Rolando Zamora(Educator)

Education

Educational approach:

Texas SARE serves as a leader for training Texas agricultural professionals regarding concepts of sustainable agriculture. For the reporting period, the program involved a multifaceted effort that provided opportunities to be trained or to participate in delivering training for mentor producers, county Extension agents, various groundwater district personnel, NRCS personnel, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality personnel, Texas Alliance of Groundwater District personnel, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation personnel, Soil and Water Conservation District personnel, NGOs and other agricultural professionals and also incorporates concepts of sustainable agriculture in existing, statewide training efforts. These training opportunities include conferences, field meetings and workshops held at various locations in Texas. Another approach of the Texas Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Committee is to support travel of selected professionals to regional and national conferences on sustainable agriculture, with the intent of participants gaining knowledge and skills that they will share with other agricultural professionals in Texas.

Program evaluation was accomplished with pre- and post-tests measuring knowledge gained by participating in educational programs. The aim of the evaluation is to assess knowledge gained and to determine whether new knowledge will be applied by participants.

The Texas Sustainable Agriculture Advisory Committee (AC) conducted their annual meetings in Prairie View on 30 January 2020 and 21 January 2021 to plan training opportunities in sustainability. The Texas AC sponsored training activities related to the USDA-SARE program, grant opportunities, organic vegetable production and marketing, and sustainable systems.

Emphasis was also placed on outreach efforts to increase awareness of Texas SARE. These included establishing and manning an educational display at the Texas Organic Farmer Gardener Conference and the Texas County Agricultural Agents Association Conference. Our outreach efforts were supported through update and maintenance of the Texas SARE program website. From May 1, 2020 until April 31, 2021 there were 162,786 visits. The Texas SARE website can be found at http://sare.tamu.edu.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Topic May 13 Well water quality training in Refugio and Victoria
Objective:

Provide well water screening and train-the-trainer programming by delivering critical information for private well owners and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses.

Description:

John Smith, Joel Pigg and Achla Jha provided well water screening and train-the-trainer programming by delivering critical information for private well owners and county Extension agents regarding best management practices for private water wells. Tim Andruss, general manager for the Victoria County and Refugio County Groundwater Conservation District (GCD), spoke regarding the suitability of local well water from the Gulf Coast aquifer for sustainable agricultural irrigation and domestic purposes, and plans for its sustainability. The Victoria GCD offered to provide follow-up testing for the arsenic problems the well water screening program identified.  SARE funding provided the Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply that was made available to attendees and supported the team’s travel as well as part of John Smith’s salary.

Outcomes and impacts:

Private well owners and county Extension agents plan to apply and share the information delivered regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. The Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply was made available to attendees. SARE funding supported travel expenses and part of John Smith’s salary. Two agents, 25 mentor farmers and 78 others attended. Post-tests indicated that all attendees increased their knowledge. Participants said the program value for their participation was $917 each or $94,451 total for the programs.

Topic May 30-31 Grass-fed Beef training
Objective:

Participants learn about proper stockpiling of forages to safeguard continued forage availability for finishing cattle, as well as science-based information regarding carcass preparation. The training was held in the Texas A and M Rosenthal Meats Center and included a demonstration emphasizing the proportion of total meat product derived from end rather than middle meats in the fabrication of a side of beef.

Description:

Texas SARE worked closely to assist Dr. Jason Cleere and Dr. Ron Gill in many ways in coordinating the Grass-fed Beef training held in the Rosenthal Meat Science lab on the TAMU campus.  Dr. Cleere also is a Texas SARE AC member.  Texas SARE also provided assistance with press release development and financial support for the conference.  Texas SARE also provided the SARE book Farmers’ Guide to Business Structures for each participant. Participants learned about proper stockpiling of forages to safeguard continued forage availability for finishing cattle, as well as science-based information on carcass preparation that included a demonstration emphasizing the proportion of total meat product derived from end rather than middle meats in the fabrication of a side of beef.  The training was held in the Texas A and M Rosenthal Meats Center.

Outcomes and impacts:

Participants including county Extension agents and mentor ranchers will apply and share the information delivered at the conference.  The training was held in the Texas A and M Rosenthal Meats Center. Four Extension agent employees, 14 mentor ranchers and 22 others attended.

June 21 SARE booth at the Houston Urban Production Conference
Objective:

Present a Texas SARE booth to highlight sustainable agriculture grant opportunities available through SARE and grant opportunities for farmers to use to solve sustainable agriculture problems they might be experiencing through the On-Farm Research or the Producer grant.

Description:

The Texas SARE booth showcases grant opportunities through SARE grant programs and specifically provides information regarding On-Farm Research and Producer Grant opportunities.  SARE educational materials also were distributed by Boone Holladay, Fort Bend CEA-Horticulture and member of Texas AC. 

Outcomes and impacts:

Participants learned about SARE training opportunities and grant opportunities to the 160 present available.

July 12-15 Texas County Agriculture Agents Association-Galveston
Objective:

Staff a Texas SARE booth to share county Extension agent sustainable agriculture training opportunities available through SARE and grant opportunities for agents' farmers to use to solve sustainable agriculture problems they might be experiencing.

Description:

The Texas SARE booth showcases training opportunities through SARE train-the-trainer programs as well as provides information regarding On-Farm Research and Producer Grant opportunities. Furthermore, agents were asked what training topics were important to them. Information regarding water management practices continued to be requested, both for agricultural irrigation water quality, as well as rain water havesting. Also, Texas Extension agents were encouraged to register for the SARE/NACAA Sustainable Agriculture Fellows program.  Many of the agents participated in Texas hosting the Fellows program in 2017, and so they were asked to share information about their experiences and about the Fellows program with others.

Outcomes and impacts:

Agents learned about SARE training opportunities, with special focus on the the SARE Fellows program. Many of the agents had been involved with the Texas SARE/NACAA Sustainable Agriculture Fellows program in May 2017 and so were able to speak from direct, personal experience. Agents also learned about both grant and train-the-trainer opportunities with SARE. The number of agents attending was 166.

 

September 9 Well water quality training - Caldwell and Milano
Objective:

Provide well water sample screening and train-the-trainer programming through delivery of critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses.

Description:

Diane Boellstorff and Joel Pigg provided well water sample testing and train-the-trainer programming through delivery of critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, master gardeners, and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. Gary Westbrook, General Manager, and Bobby Bazan, Water Resources Management Specialist for the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District described plans to continue to provide high quality, sustainable sources of water for producers and others, and the District well registration/permitting process. SARE funding provided the Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply that was made available to attendees.

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, and county Extension agents will apply and share information delivered regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. The Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply was made available to attendees. Two agents, 25 mentor ranchers/farmers and 72 others attended. A survey of participants indicated that they valued the program at an average of $609 each or $59,073 total for the program.

September 18-19 Well water quality training - Andrews and Seminole
Objective:

Provide well water sample screening and train-the-trainer programming through delivery of critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, Master Gardeners, and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses.

Description:

John Smith provided well water sample screening and train-the-trainer programming through delivery of critical information for private well owners, fishermen, mentor farmers/ranchers, Master Gardeners, and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. SARE funding supported some of John Smith’s travel costs and the Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply that was made available to attendees.

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including private well owners, fishermen, master farmers/ranchers, Master Gardeners, and county Extension agents will apply and share information received regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. The Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply was made available to 52 attendees. Survey participants from Andrews county indicated they valued program at an average of $766 or $39,832.

October 16-17 Water quality training in Orange and Winnie
Objective:

Provide well water screening and train-the-trainer programming by delivering critical information for private well owners and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses.

Description:

Joel Pigg provided well water screening and train-the-trainer programming by delivering critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers, master gardeners and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. SARE funding supported the distribution of the Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply  to attendees.

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including private well owners, mentor farmers, master gardeners and county Extension agents plan to use the information delivered regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. The Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply was made available to participants. SARE also supported travel costs and part of John Smith’s salary. Three agents and 99 others attended. A survey of participants indicated that they valued the program at an average of $892 each or $88,308 total for the program.

October 29 Restoring Ecosystem Function with Affordable Agriculture Practices –D’Hanis
Objective:

Provide sustainable agriculture training to NRCS, mentor producers and Extension professionals on a variety of conservation practices

Description:

Topics included: 1) Soil Health Basics-Cliff Kinnibrush, NRCS Conservation Agronomist; 2) Effective Planned Grazing-Travis Krause, Parker Creek Ranch; 3) Sub-soiling for water capture and forage production-Mandy Krause, Parker Creek Ranch; 4) Cover Crop Options for South Texas-Dr. Jamie Foster, Texas A&M AgriLife Research; 5) Native Prairie Restoration-Kason Haby, Grazing Lands Coalition; 6) Pasture Monitoring Techniques for Landowners-Dr. Megan Clayton and Dr. Jamie Foster, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension & Reseatch; 7) Supporting Wildlife with Agriculture–Iliana Pena, Texas Wildlife Association; 8) SARE funding opportunities-John W. Smith. 

Outcomes and impacts:

Thirty-five attendees were made up of 12 employees from NRCS, 6 employees of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, 15 mentor producers and 2 others.

November 5 Well water quality training – Bay City
Objective:

Provide well water sample screening and train-the-trainer programming through delivery of critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, master gardeners, and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses.

Description:

Diane Boellstorff, Joel Pigg and Ryan Gerlich provided well water sample screening and train-the-trainer programming including delivering critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, Master Gardeners, and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses.

In addition, Nathan Glavy, watershed coordinator for the Tres Palacios Watershed spoke regarding efforts of the Tres Palacios Watershed Protection Plan Partnership to protect and preserve water quality for many purposes, including irrigation. SARE funding provided the Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply that was made available to attendees.

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including private well owners, watershed coordinators, GCD personnel, and county Extension agents will use and share information received regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. The Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply was made available to attendees. One agent, 10 mentor farmers/master gardeners and 31 others attended. A survey of participants indicated that they valued the program at an average of $758 each or $31,078 total for the program.

November 7 TWON Water Quality-Gatesville
Objective:

Provide well water screening and train-the-trainer programming by delivering critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses.

Description:

John Smith, Diane Boellstorff, Joel Pigg and Ryan Gerlich provided well water screening and train-the-trainer programming by delivering critical information for private well owners, watershed coordinators, and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. Also, Andy James, watershed coordinator for the Leon River Watershed Protection Plan Partnership described local aquifer characteristics as well as aquifers of Texas. SARE funding provided the Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply that was made available to attendees.

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers and county Extension agents plan to use information presented regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. The Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply was made available to attendees. One agent, four mentor farmers and 6 others attended. A survey of participants indicated that they valued the program at an average of $440 each or $4,400 total for the program.

November 14, 19 Well water quality training - Groesbeck and Lincoln
Objective:

Provide well water sample screening and train-the-trainer programming including delivering critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses.

Description:

John Smith, Diane Boellstorff, Achla Jha, Joel Pigg and Ryan Gerlich provided well water sample screening and train-the-trainer programming including delivering critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. 

SARE funding provided the Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply that was made available to attendees.

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers and county Extension agents plan to use and share information delivered regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. The Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply was made available to attendees. Two agents, 9 mentor farmers and 42 others attended. A survey of Groesbeck participants indicated that they valued the program at an average of $775 each or $23,250 total for the program. A survey of Lincoln participants indicated that they valued the program at an average of $1,127 each or $23,667 total for the program.

Funding Assistance Overview for Agriculture Producers and Youth in Agriculture
Objective:

Present information on the different SARE grants, and different loans and cost share programs that are offered by the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Description:

Dr. Nelson Daniels, Texas SARE state co-coordinator, provided information on SARE grants, and other grants, loans and cost share offered by USDA Farm Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Department of Agriculture and emergency assistance for commercial producers. Information was also provided on feral hog management and the Texas AgrAbility project. The training included women and minorities including beginning farmers/ranchers and mentor farmers/ranches. Some of those trained plan to present the information to others.    

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including both beginning and mentor farmers/ranchers, and master gardeners. The 12 county Extension agents trained will use and share the information received regarding the suitability practices as well as funding sources.

December 6 Battleground to Breaking Ground-Belton
Objective:

Texas SARE partnered with Melissa Blair, USDA, to provide SARE resources for a Battleground to Breaking Ground veteran program.

Description:

Texas and Southern SARE provided 100 SARE books for the Battleground to Breaking Ground program for veterans in cooperation with Texas AgrAbility, USDA, NCAT, Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, Farm Credit, and Alamo SWCD#330. Veterans learned about Texas AgrAbility, details regarding the Battleground to Breaking Ground Project, rural business ideas, the Farmer-Veteran Coalition, veterans in production agriculture, and business planning basics.

Outcomes and impacts:

Texas SARE partnered with Melissa Blair, USDA-NRCS Public Affairs Specialist and State Earth Team Coordinator, to provide learning opportunities for veterans with 100 SARE books, 45 of them were used in the Battleground to Breaking Ground program. Books used for veterans included 30 copies of Building Sustainable Farms, Ranches and Communities and 15 copies of The Farmers Market. 

December 9 Well Water quality training in Brenham
Objective:

Provide well water screening and train-the-trainer programming through delivery of critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, master gardeners, and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses.

Description:

Diane Boellstorff, Joel Pigg, Ryan Gerlich and Achla Jha provided well water sample screening and train-the-trainer programming through delivery of critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, master gardeners, and county Extension agents. SARE funding provided the Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply that was made available to attendees. In addition, the Mill Creek Watershed Protection Plan Partnership watershed coordinator spoke regarding efforts to protect and preserve water quality in the area for many purposes, including irrigation.

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, master gardeners, and county Extension agents will use and share the information received regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. The Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply was made available to attendees. One agent, 17 mentor farmers/master gardeners and 29 others attended. A survey of participants indicated that they valued the program at an average of $500 each or $23,000 total for the program.

January 16-18, 2020 Texas Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association Conference Temple
Objective:

Present a Texas SARE booth to share sustainable agriculture training opportunities available through SARE and grant opportunities for farmers to use to solve sustainable agriculture problems they might be experiencing. Ask attendees what SARE training they would like to see occur.

Description:

The Texas SARE booth showcases training opportunities through SARE train-the-trainer programs as well as provides information regarding On-Farm Research and Producer Grant opportunities. Furthermore, 125 SARE publications were distributed to the 137 attendees.  

Outcomes and impacts:

Agents and mentor ranchers also learned about both grant and train-the-trainer opportunities with SARE.  Agents in attendance, learned about SARE training opportunities, with special focus on the the SARE Fellows program.

February 5 Well water quality training in Wellborn, Texas
Objective:

Provide well water sample screening and train-the-trainer programming including critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses.

Description:

John Smith, Diane Boellstorff and Joel Pigg provided well water sample screening and train-the-trainer programming through delivery of critical information for private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, Master Gardeners, and county Extension agents regarding the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. In addition, Allen Day, the Brazos Valley Groundwater Conservation District General Manager explained the need for conservation due to the aquifer having more water taken out than recharging water going back into the aquifer. SARE funding provided the Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply that was made available to attendees. SARE funded part of John Smith’s salary. 

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including private well owners, mentor farmers/ranchers, Master Gardeners, and county Extension agents will apply and share information delivered regarding best management practices for private water wells and the suitability of local well water for sustainable agricultural irrigation purposes, as well as for domestic uses. SARE funding provided the Well Owner’s Guide to Water Supply that was made available to attendees. One agent, 5 mentor farmers/ranchers and 15 others participated. A survey of participants indicated that they valued the program at an average of $940 each or $18,800 total for the program.

February 6 The 35th annual Fort Bend Regional Vegetable Farming Training - Rosenburg
Objective:

Agents and other participants learn about sustainable vegetable production through a series of break-out sessions.

Description:

Boone Holladay, Ft. Bend County Extension Agent for Horticulture, is coordinator of one of the largest and best vegetable garden trainings in Texas.  Through Southern SARE training funds, Boone has continued to keep up to date and expand his knowledge by attending a Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Conference, the 2016 Southern Cover Crop Conference, and a Texas Organic Farmer and Gardener Association annual meeting. SARE also provided books for break-out sessions for the attendees. Presentations at the 2020 conference included: Protecting pollinators in crop production areas-Mrs. Wizzie Brown, integrated pest management program specialist TAMU; disease management in high density plantings and enclosed environments-Dr. Thomas Isakeit, Professor and Extension Specialist in Field Crops Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Sevice; Variety Selection-Why is it so important? Dr. Juan Anciso, Vegetable Program Specialist Texas A&M AgiLife Extension Service; Texas Department of Agriculture Program Updates; Pesticide Laws and Regulations-Dr. Don Renchie-Agriculture and Environmetal Safety Specialist Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service; Harvesting Rainwater for Farm Operation-Billy Kniffen-Water Resource Specialist-retired Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service; Integrated Pest Management-Pest Scouting Options-Molly Keck, Integrated Pest Management Program Specialist Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service; Growing Vegetables in Containers-Tom LeRoy-Montgomery County Extension Agent-Horticulture-retired Texas A&M Agrilife Extension Service.

Outcomes and impacts:

Agents and participants attended a variety of break-out session on sustainable vegetable production. Information will be used and shared by participants and/or to train others. Seven agents, 4 USDA employees, 4 Texas Prison System, 56 mentor farmer/gardeners and 112 others attended. SARE provided much-appreciated books for break-out sessions for the attendees.

February 25 National Junior Master Gardener Leaders Training Conference-College Station
Objective:

Provide sustainable agriculture training to teachers and instructors on a variety of water subjects from conservation and quality, to rainwater harvesting as well as the latest on the FSMA guidelines.

Description:

Topics included: 1) Innovation in connecting agriculture to health and wellness; 2) Growing sustainability and empowering teachers; 3) Water quality, Where does my water come from, and how good is it for my plants?    

Outcomes and impacts:

The 146 attendees will train others based on the information delivered at the training.

February 27 Southern SARE books for 2020 – Texas
Objective:

Provide sustainable agriculture books to NRCS, Texas A&M AgriLife employees, Prairie View A&M Cooperative Extension and mentor farmer ranchers through the SSARE book program.

Description:

Books available included: 1) Building a Sustainable Business; 2) Building Soils for Better Crops; 3) Crop Rotation on Organic Farms; 4) Farmers’ Guide to Business Structures; 5) Managing Alternative Pollinators; 6) Managing Cover Crops Profitably; 7) Organic Transition; 8) Systems Research for Agriculture; 9) The New American Farmer; 10) Youth Renewing the Countryside.

Outcomes and impacts:

This is a great program that is very beneficial to Texas!  Delivery goes to directly to the office of those requesting the materials.  Candace does an excellent job in directing this effort!  For 2020 Texas requested 956 books.  Obviously, it is a very appreciated resource by the Texas participants.

March 3 Conservation and Sustainable Agriculture Field Tour-College Station
Objective:

Provide sustainable agriculture training to teachers and instructors on a variety of water subjects from conservation and quality, to rainwater harvesting as well as the latest on the FSMA guidelines.

Description:

Topics included: 1) Organic Cotton Transition-Daniel Hathcoat; 2) 26 cover crop species-Daniel Hathcoat; 3) Residual herbicide and cover crops-Daniel Hathcoat; 4) Greenhouse gas emissions from cover crops and reduced tillage-Diana Zapata-Rojas; 5) Cover crops in corn and sorghum-Jack Nielson; 6) Legume species and seeding rate trial-Dr. Jake Mowrer; 7) Carbon amendments and tillage in corn production-Binita Thapa; 8) XtendFlex cotton stewardship trail-Rohith Vulchi; 9) SARE funding opportunities-John W. Smith. 

Outcomes and impacts:

Forty-seven attendees made up of 25 employees from USDA, 15 employees of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and 7 employees from Prairie View A&M University Cooperative Extension Service.

April 21 (postponed due to COVID-19) Sustainable Agriculture Field Day - Bee Production, LaGrange
Objective:

Provide sustainable agriculture training to agents and producers on a many aspects of Bee production.

Description:

Topics included: 1) Bee production in Texas-Mary Reed, Chief Apiary Inspector Texas Apiary Inspection Service; 2) Bee production in Fayette County – Bee producer-LaGrange; 3) Meeting the Agriculture Tax exemption status in Fayette County-Fayette County Ag appraiser.

Outcomes and impacts:

Excellent program that we plan to reschedule soon now that COVID 19 shelter in place restrictions and masking requirements have been lifted.

May Business Planning and Development Workshop for Agriculture Producers
Objective:

Present information on the different SARE grants, and different loans and cost share programs that are offered by the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Description:

Dr. Nelson Daniels, Texas SARE state co-coordinator, provided information on SARE grants, and other grants, loans and cost share offered by USDA Farm Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Department of Agriculture and emergency assistance for commercial producers. Information was also provided on farm planning and business management. The training included women and minorities including beginning farmers/ranchers and mentor farmers/ranches. Some of those trained plan to present the information to others.   

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including both beginning and mentor farmers/ranchers, and master gardeners. Forty-five producers and 12 county Extension agents will use and share the information received regarding the suitability practices as well as funding sources.

July 11-15 Texas County Agriculture Agents Association- Amarillo
Objective:

Staff a Texas SARE booth to share county Extension agent sustainable agriculture training opportunities available through SARE and grant opportunities for agents' farmers to use to solve sustainable agriculture problems they might be experiencing.

Description:

The Texas SARE booth showcases training opportunities through SARE train-the-trainer programs as well as provides information regarding On-Farm Research and Producer Grant opportunities. Furthermore, agents were asked what training topics were important to them. Information regarding water management practices continued to be requested, both for agricultural irrigation water quality, as well as rainwater havesting. Also, Texas Extension agents were encouraged to register for the SARE/NACAA Sustainable Agriculture Fellows program.  Many of the agents participated in Texas hosting the Fellows program in 2017, and so they were asked to share information about their experiences and about the Fellows program with others.

Outcomes and impacts:

Agents learned about SARE training opportunities, with special focus on the the SARE Fellows program. Many of the agents had been involved with the Texas SARE/NACAA Sustainable Agriculture Fellows program in May 2017 and so were able to speak from direct, personal experience. Agents also learned about both grant and train-the-trainer opportunities with SARE. The number of agents attending was 142.

July Legal Risk for Small Farmers workshop
Objective:

Present information on the different SARE grants, and different loans and cost share programs that are offered by the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Texas Department of Agriculture. Provide information to underserved of legal risk and exposure for agriculture producers.

Description:

Dr. Nelson Daniels, Texas SARE state co-coordinator, provided information on SARE grants, and other grants, loans and cost share offered by USDA Farm Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Department of Agriculture and emergency assistance for commercial producers. Information was also provided on online resources for developing business plans as well as informations about marketing agricultural products. The training included women and minorities including beginning farmers/ranchers and mentor farmers/ranches. Some of those trained plan to present the information to others.   

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including both beginning and mentor farmers/ranchers, and master gardeners. The 12 county Extension agents will use and share the information received regarding the suitability practices as well as funding sources.

July Women in Agriculture training
Objective:

Present information on the different SARE grants, and different loans and cost share programs that are offered by the United States Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency, Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Texas Department of Agriculture.

Description:

Dr. Nelson Daniels, Texas SARE state co-coordinator, provided information on SARE grants, and other grants, loans and cost share offered by USDA Farm Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Department of Agriculture and emergency assistance for commercial producers. He also presented on developing business plans and keeping farm records. The training included women and minorities including beginning farmers/ranchers and mentor farmers/ranches. Some of those trained plan to present the information to others.   

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including both beginning and mentor farmers/ranchers, and master gardeners. The 30 women producers will use and share the information received regarding the suitability practices as well as funding sources.

 

Sheep and Goat Expo, August 14-15, virtual
Objective:

Texas SARE works closely with sheep and goat experts across Texas. Texas SARE promotes the annual Texas Sheep and Goat Expo with Texas AgriLife Extension Agents to encourage them to attend to receive recent research updates regarding sustainable sheep and goat product best management practices. Also, each year, we provide an agent training in San Angelo to inform agents regarding SARE grant opportunities available.

Description:

Texas SARE attended the virtual Texas Sheep and Goat Expo in 2020. Also, Texas SARE helped to advertise the event.  Dr. Reid Redden delivered new information on sheep and goat sustainable best management practices through his Professional Development Program (ES19-147) project titled, “Training Texas County Extension Agents and Mentor Ranchers to Improve Small Ruminant Health and Productivity Through Natural Genetic Selection Strategies.”

Outcomes and impacts:

Attendees including both beginning and mentor farmers/ranchers. The 21 attending county Extension agents will use and share the information received regarding the sustainable production best management practices.

September 3 Rainwater Harvesting Systems for Sustainable Agriculture production, PVAMU-Virtual
Objective:

Provide farmers introductory material for a rainwater harvesting system. Many of the water wells used for irrigation contain water with salinity concentrations above the desired level and can decrease yield and damage soils. Provide information regarding SARE funding opportunities.

Description:

John Smith, Dr. Richard W. Griffen and Stedman Douglas provided a virtual walking presentation and explanation of constructing a rainwater harvesting system at the TAMU horticulture greenhouse location in the Brazos River bottom.  Dr. Nelson Daniels, Texas SARE state co-coordinator, provided information on SARE grants, and other grants, loans and cost share offered by USDA Farm Service, Natural Resources Conservation Service, Texas Department of Agriculture and emergency assistance for commercial producers. Information was also provided on NRCS rainwater harvesting funding. The training included women and minorities including beginning farmers/ranchers and mentor farmers/ranches. Some of those trained plan to present the information to others.   

Outcomes and impacts:

Over 55 attendees included both beginning and mentor farmers/ranchers, agents and master gardeners.

January 5-February 25 Texas Organic Farmer Gardener Association Convention-Virtual
Objective:

Provide support for the largest organic education program in Texas. Continue to stay connected with Texas organic producers.

Description:

In previous years we have provided books and other SARE publications through the Texas SARE booth showcasing training opportunities through SARE train-the-trainer programs as well as providing information regarding On-Farm Research and Producer Grant opportunities. Books were distributed to the about 60 participants.  

Outcomes and impacts:

In previous years, agents and mentor farmer gardeners also learned about both grant and train-the-trainer opportunities with SARE.  Agents in attendance learned about SARE training opportunities, with special focus on the SARE Fellows program. With the virtual format, support of this year’s training enhanced Texas SARE’s continued visibility by sharing information regarding future grant and training oppertunities.

April 6 Texas County Agriculture Agents Association (TCAAA)- District 9
Objective:

Provide a sustainable organic agent training for District 9 TCAAA extension agent.

Description:

Dr. Nelson Daniels provided agents information on SARE funding opportunities available to them including the Producer Grant, the On-Farm Reseach Grant, and the Graduate Student Grant. Also, John Smith described other Texas SARE programs including the Grassfed Beef Conference, the Sheep and Goat Expo, Cover crop programs, Ft. Bend Regional Vegetable conference and many other continuing education programs available to them and their mentor farmer/ranchers.  Brandi Chandler, Interim Coordinator for Organic Certification, explained what is required for organic certification in Texas.

Outcomes and impacts:

Agents had many questions and positive comments on the training. The training provided details regarding organic certification as well as whom to contact for answers to sustainable and organic questions. Also, the agents expressed interest in other Texas SARE training opportunities available. The 51 Extension agents in attendance expressed appreciation for the program.

MANRRS Virtual Annual Conference April 6 – 10, 2021
Objective:

Texas SARE are provided scholarships for students from 1890 universities in the southeast to attend the 2021 MANRRS Virtual Annual Conference April 6 – 10, 2021.

Description:

Texas SARE provided scholarships to the 35th MANRRS Annual Career Fair and Training Conference. It is an intriguing time for the food, agriculture, natural resources, and related science fields as we continue to grow and evolve, remaining always adaptable, motivated and responsive to our membership, societal, and workforce needs.

Through the Annual Career Fair and Training Conference, the National Society of MANRRS offers many benefits and services to help members increase their knowledge and develop skills in partnerships for students’ success. Our sessions acquaint new members with MANRRS and prepare them for future roles in their chapters, and help experienced members improve and refine their knowledge and skills for their ideal job or internship in the field of agriculture, natural resources, and related sciences industry.

Outcomes and impacts:

Texas SARE provided 5 scholarships for this online training opportunity.

Educational & Outreach Activities

422 Consultations
3 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
3 Minigrants
7 On-farm demonstrations
6 Online trainings
9 Study circle/focus groups
4 Tours
5 Travel Scholarships
5 Webinars / talks / presentations
14 Workshop field days

Participation Summary

410 Extension
23 NRCS
7 Researchers
6 Nonprofit
12 Agency
651 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

1309 Participants gained or increased knowledge, skills and/or attitudes about sustainable agriculture topics, practices, strategies, approaches
307 Ag professionals intend to use knowledge, attitudes, skills and/or awareness learned

Project Outcomes

3 Grants received that built upon this project
2 New working collaborations
307 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
251 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Additional Outcomes:

Pre/post test administered indicate a 96 percent increase in knowledge of program participants

Recommendations:

Thank you for providing support to make a difference in Sustainable Agriculture in Texas

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

Texas SARE serves as a leader for training Texas Agriculture professionals regarding concepts of sustainable agriculture. Cooperative program efforts involve providing opportunities to be trained or to participate in delivering training for mentor producers,  county Extension agents, various groundwater district personnel, NRCS personnel, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality personnel, Environmental Protection Agency personnel, Texas Alliance of Groundwater District personnel, River Authority personnel, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation personnel, Soil and Water Conservation District personnel, NGO’s and other agriculture professionals. These training opportunities include conferences, field meetings and workshops held at various locations in Texas and nationwide. The Texas Sustainable Advisory Committee also supports travel of selected professionals to regional and national conferences on sustainable agriculture, with the intention for participants to gain knowledge and skills that they share with other agricultural professionals in Texas.

383 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
297 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.