Wisconsin State Plan of Work 2021-2022

Final report for WNC20-112

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2022: $130,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Grant Recipient: University of Wisconsin Madison
Region: North Central
State: Wisconsin
State Coordinator:
Diane Mayerfeld
University of Wisconsin Madison
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Project Information


Wisconsin has identified four initiatives for the 2021-2022 Plan of Work:  

Initiative 1:  Resilient Cropping Systems

Initiative 2:  Beginning Farmer Programming  

Initiative 3:  Promoting Diversity in Sustainable Agriculture

Initiative 4:  Extending Sustainable Agriculture Knowledge and Practice

Project Objectives:

Initiative 1:  Resilient Cropping Systems

Outcomes:  (Short term) Increased knowledge among agricultural educators about specifics of using integrated conservation cropping systems, including alternative crop rotations, grazing, agroforestry, perennial systems, cover crops, and reduced tillage, to promote soil health and farm production, environmental, and economic resiliency. 

(Intermediate) Continued and new programming by 15 or more educators on developing, implementing and/or evaluating conservation cropping systems on soil health and farm resiliency, with in-depth information on specific practices. 

(Long term) Increased adoption of resilient and diverse conservation cropping systems throughout the state. 


  • Solicit mini-grants focused on innovative resilient conservation cropping system practices.
  • Follow up on past cover crop, soil health, and perennial crop mini-grants.
  • Work with colleagues to incorporate resilient agricultural information at Extension ‘management’ meetings
  • Provide technical support to the Alternative Crops, Climate Change, and Soil Health working groups in UW Extension.  
  • Deliver a workshop focused on resilient cropping systems for high school and/or technical college instructors at the WAAE conference, with activities that can be incorporated into existing classes.
  • Provide scholarships for agricultural educators to attend professional development on conservation cropping system practices, implementation and evaluation.
  • Produce short video of cover cropping in northern Wisconsin. 


  • The number of agriculture educators participating in resilient cropping professional development,  and responses to end-of-program evaluation
  • The number of educators programming in resilient cropping systems, and where available, the number of farmers reached through this programming
  • If the CTIC cover crop surveys continue, document the amount of cover crop use in Wisconsin over time



Initiative 2:  Beginning Farmer Programming  


In order to participate in the NCR-SARE regional initiative for 2021-22, one of our initiative focus areas will be on “beginning farmers and ranchers.” We will work with members of our state delegation who attended the regional training in Indianapolis in October 2019, as well as other  educators who focus on beginning farmer training and support, to develop resources and training to help educators support beginning farmers.    

Outcomes:  (Short term) Ten Wisconsin agricultural educators will increase their understanding of resources and strategies for supporting sustainability of beginning farmers, including issues around land access.  

(Intermediate) 5 educators will provide outreach to 40 beginning farmers and educators through workshops, technical assistance, publications, and other methods.     


  • Assess beginning farmer support needs
  • Post articles and resources for beginning farmers on the Wisconsin Farm Management website
  • Develop and compile fact sheets, videos, and/or curriculum on basics of sustainable vegetable and livestock production  
  • Hold virtual in-service on working with beginning farmers (2 to 4 webinars.  Possible topics:  facilitating land access, common beginning farmer issues, helping beginning farmers plan, helping beginning farmers keep good records, resources for beginning farmers) 
  • Solicit a mini-grant supporting beginning farmer programming or professional development


  • The number of agriculture educators working on developing new beginning farmer resources and programming
  • The number of beginning farmers reached by educators directly and indirectly
  • The number of beginning or prospective farmers who decide not to continue farming



Initiative 3:  Promoting Diversity in Sustainable Agriculture

Background:  Although improving racial equity has been a goal for Extension and other organizations working on sustainable agriculture in Wisconsin for many years, attention to and concern about the history and continued presence of systemic racism in agriculture has increased markedly since the police killing of George Floyd.  However, awareness of continuing inequities is uneven, and the topic can be contentious.  In addition, working with new audiences requires new knowledge, skills, and approaches on the part of agricultural educators.   

Outcomes:  (Short term)  40 Wisconsin agriculture educators will increase their knowledge about systemic racism in agriculture, about agricultural practices of BIPOC farmers in Wisconsin, and/or about ways to talk about issues of equity. 

(Intermediate)  10 agriculture educators will expand their programming with underserved audiences and/or will educate students about issues around equity and food sovereignty.  Extension will take steps to improve the diversity of agricultural educators. 

(Long term)  Increase income of BIPOC farmers and food sovereignty of BIPOC communities in Wisconsin. 


  • Provide professional development to 30 agriculture educators on issues of race in agriculture
  • Work with Extension and community partners to learn about HMoob farms, information needs, and opportunities for collaboration
  • Work with Extension and MANRRS to improve hiring and retention of more diverse staff


  • Number of agriculture educators participating in professional development on issues of race in agriculture
  • New or improved programming for diverse agricultural audiences or partnerships with organizations working with diverse farmers



Initiative 4:  Extending Sustainable Agriculture Knowledge and Practice

Background:  SARE needs to continue to support professional development and educator action for a wide range of sustainable agriculture practices and approaches that SARE helped initiate in Wisconsin, including organic agriculture, climate and energy, and local foods. In addition, the state SARE professional development program needs to be able to respond to emerging opportunities in sustainable agriculture.

Outcomes:  (Short-term)  30 educators will increase their knowledge of sustainable practices and approaches such as local food systems, organic agriculture, recycling, and responding to climate change.

(Intermediate)  10 educators will provide information and programming on organic agriculture, local food systems, and other sustainable agriculture topics to 100 farmers and others involved in agriculture.     

(Long-term)  More farmers will adopt sustainable practices from grazing to managing for diversity, and farmers will improve their management of sustainable approaches.


  • Administer SARE mini-grant program.
  • Assist agricultural educators with organizing, providing, and funding professional development in sustainable agriculture. 
  • Offer SARE scholarships to conferences, workshops, and other professional development opportunities in sustainable agriculture (primarily in 2022).


  • Number of educators involved in mini-grants, and types of outreach resulting from mini-grants. Mini-grant recipients will submit reports on their projects.  
  • Number of agricultural educators participating in events co-sponsored by SARE. Evaluation of workshops will be developed in cooperation with planning partners and will include the number of people attending as well as how they intend to apply the information gained. 
  • Number of SARE scholarship recipients and types of outreach resulting from SARE scholarships. Scholarship recipients will be sent a questionnaire 6 to 12 months after the event asking them how the scholarship influenced their work. 




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Education & Outreach Initiatives

Resilient Cropping Systems

Improve ability of agricultural educators to support environmentally and economically resilient cropping systems in Wisconsin.


Wisconsin SARE conducted outreach and awarded mini-grants focused on resilient cropping systems. 

Outcomes and impacts:

In 2021 Wisconsin conducted in-person workshops and webinars focused on resilient cropping systems, including:

  • In-person workshops on agroforestry and soil health for 68 high school and technical college agriculture instructors
  • A series of 3 cover crops webinars that reached approximately 35 agricultural agency staff, 17 Extension educators, 12 crop consultants, and 20 farmers
  • Silvopasture webinars that reached 150 participants (no information on how many were educators and how many were farmers)

In addition to reaching participants directly, these events resulted in news stories about resilient cropping systems, such as



Wisconsin SARE awarded 3 mini-grants focused on resilient cropping systems and extended one from the previous year, including:

  • A grant for cover crop seed demonstration and activities at the county fair that involved 28 educators and reached 50 farmers, 30 landowners, and 100 youth
  • A project on evaluating and demonstrating soil health that involved 10 educators.  Because of continued COVID concerns there was no in-person outreach, but several tools and publications for educators are being prepared for use in coming years
  • A project to investigate the role of soil health in cranberry production 

In 2022 Wisconsin conducted several in-person workshops and webinars focused on resilient cropping systems, including:

  • A silvopasture presentation at the GrassWorks conference that reached 35 farmers and educators in person, plus several virtual attendees
  • Workshops on perennial cropping systems and climate-smart agriculture that reached 12 agriculture instructors at their summer conference
  • A presentation on climate-smart agriculture in Wisconsin at the Wisconsin Farmers Union convention attended by 45 educators and farmers
  • A webinar as part of Extension’s regular Badger Crop Connect series that covered agriculture and climate change in Wisconsin, and the value of soil health practices for building resilience, attended by 47 educators and farmers
  • A webinar presentation on addressing Wisconsin agricultural climate impacts at the Wisconsin section of the American Water Resources Association conference that reached 35 educators
  • Wisconsin SARE also helped organize two oral and two poster sessions on Agricultural Sustainability, with particular emphasis on adapting to and mitigating climate change, at the American Geophysical Union annual conference in Chicago. Roughly 40 to 50 students and researchers participated. 


In addition, WI SARE

  • Contributed to  Improving climate change mitigation and resiliency across Wisconsin’s agriculture industry  , the Agriculture Working Group report for the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts  2021 Assessment Report: Wisconsin’s Changing Climate
  • Worked with the USDA SAS CAP grant on Kernza to start a multi-state Extension Kernza Cohort
  • Provided 11 scholarships related to resilient cropping systems for educators: 5 to attend the Wisconsin Grazing Conference, 5 to attend the Wisconsin Cover Crops Conference, and 1 to take the School for Beginning Livestock and Dairy Farmers course. Scholarship recipients reported that their programming based on the scholarships reached 17 Extension educators, 25 NGO staff, 21 ag. consultants, 30 NRCS staff, 100 Soil and Water staff, and 380 farmers by Dec 2022.  In addition, scholarship recipients used the scholarships to help answer client questions, develop new contacts and partners, help write farm plans, and provide content for newsletters and other media.
  • In 2022 the Cranberry Soil Health mini-grant analyzed the soil health data collected in 2021.  The project conclusions (which were that no statistically significant environment or management soil health correlations were detected in their samples) were shared with 330 attendees at the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers’ Association January 2023 Cranberry School. 

Beginning Farmers

Provide resources for agricultural educators to help beginning farmers move toward environmental, economic, and social sustainability.


In 2021 Wisconsin SARE worked with the Extension Farm Management Program and other agricultural educators and provided 1 mini-grant focused on beginning farmers.  

In 2022 Wisconsin SARE continued partnerships with other agricultural and natural resources educators focused on beginning farmers and awarded 2 mini-grants related to beginning farmers.  


Outcomes and impacts:

The beginning farmer mini-grant resulted in production of 20 videos for beginning farmers: 9 in the vegetable farming (market farm) category and 11 in the flower farming category.  There are a set of farm/farmer introductory videos, more detailed farm business chronology videos (that capture the growth and development of each farm business), and marketing videos (covering farmers markets, direct wholesale, CSA, and other forms of marketing). There is also a “business basics” video prepared by one of the flower growers. The videos range in length between 10 and 45 minutes. These videos are in a queue to receive closed captioning before being made available to the public in 2022.  The videos are intended to be available to beginning farmers for a fee, and will be available to Extension educators for free.  

The Extension Farm Management Program conducted a Farm Start-up webinar attended by 70 people and added resources  for beginning and transitioning farmers to their website, such as

Extension, Wisconsin SARE, NRCS, and Golden Sands RC&D hosted a "Getting Started with Regenerative Agriculture" field day, which covered both forest and agricultural management options for landowners.  33 farmers and resource professionals attended.  

In 2022 Wisconsin SARE conducted in-person workshops and webinars focused on beginning farmers, including

  • A webinar on silvopasture for the Dairy Grazier Apprenticeship Program attended by 12 apprentices and educators
  • A webinar for the educator network of the Wisconsin Women in Conservation group on SARE resources and on working with new landowners that reached 50 educators
  • A series of 3 webinars for new landowners, developed in partnership with 14 natural resources and agriculture educators and researchers, that reached more than 70 landowners 

2022 mini-grants related to beginning farmer outreach included 

  • Door County Apple School for Non-Commercial Growers. 58 People total attended the three classes and received copies of all presentations and field guides, along with hand lenses for scouting their own trees. The agricultural research station that hosted the school continues to have the handouts and presentations from the class available.  
  • Youth Sustainable Agriculture Education in Door County.  (Still waiting for the final report.)
Initiative 3: Promoting Diversity in Sustainable Agriculture

Improve the ability of Extension and other organizations to support diverse farmers in Wisconsin


In 2021 Wisconsin SARE funded two mini-grants that included Menominee and Oneida educators and youth and is partnering with Extension and community organizations to develop better support and outreach for HMoob farmers in Wisconsin.  

In 2022 Wisconsin SARE continued working on better outreach to HMoob farmers and other diverse agricultural audiences.  

Outcomes and impacts:

The Garden in a Bucket mini-grant funded in 2020 continued through 2021.  At least 60 Menominee youth and several Oneida youth participated in the project.  Project materials were also shared with other families and classes, but the pandemic prevented follow up by project staff.  Educators plan to continue working with the concept in 2022.  

The FRESH Project Gardens mini-grant provided gardening and food system curriculum and materials to Menominee Nation’s Keshena Primary School as well as two other schools and a Boys and Girls club.  

Extension and Wisconsin SARE are leading partners in the "Building Capacity to Work with HMoob Farmers" project.  In 2021 the project conducted focus groups and individual interviews with 14 HMoob (Hmong) farmers to learn about successes, challenges, and needs.  The project has also built a network of partners, including HMoob organizations and groups that provide land access for diverse farmers.   

In 2022 Wisconsin SARE

  • Worked with Extension and community partners to successfully apply for a USDA Socially Disadvantaged Farmers (2501) grant, which will allow Wisconsin to build on the needs assessment conducted in previous years and build longer-term capacity to serve HMoob farmers.
  • Helped lead a session on working with HMoob farmers at the Extension all-colleague conference that was attended by 12 educators.
  • Spoke about sustainable agriculture and SARE resources with rotating small groups at a Soil Sisters workshop for women farmers with 70 attendees.
  • Exhibited and spoke with all 30 attendees in small groups at a Wisconsin Women in Conservation event in Milwaukee focused on diverse and beginning women farmers.
  • Spoke about SARE resources, including graduate student grants, at a meeting of the UW-Madison MANRRS chapter attended by about 12 students.
  • Provided scholarships to 2 educators from Stockbridge-Munsee to attend the Oneida Seed Rematriation field day.
Initiative 4: Extending Sustainable Agriculture Knowledge and Practice

Support professional development and educator action for a wide range of sustainable agriculture practices and approaches that SARE helped initiate in Wisconsin, including organic agriculture, climate and energy, and local foods, as well as emerging opportunities in sustainable agriculture.


In 2021 Wisconsin SARE awarded 3 mini-grants, conducted numerous webinars focused on climate change and sustainable agriculture, and awarded 9 professional development scholarships to educators and 8 scholarships to students to attend the Growing Stronger virtual conference on organic and grass-based agriculture.   Wisconsin SARE also conducted in-person workshops on sustainable agriculture resources and agriculture and climate change. 

In 2022 Wisconsin SARE awarded 1 mini-grant and worked with colleagues on outreach on regenerative agriculture and climate change and agriculture.  

Outcomes and impacts:

In 2021 Educator scholarship recipients used information from the event to answer client questions, develop new contacts and partners, incorporate new ideas and information into regular programming, and in newsletters.  Information gained through scholarships reached at least 41 farmers, agricultural educators, and others.  Students reported that they would apply information and contacts gained from the scholarships to their own research or class work, in a student organic farm or garden project, and on their own current or future farm.  

Four climate change professional development webinars reached about 70 Extension educators (about 30 in Agriculture and others in the Natural Resources, Community Development, Health & Wellbeing, and Youth institutes).  Depending on the webinar, 75 to 85% of respondents reported that they gained a better understanding of the issues, and 45 to 50% planned to use the information they gained in their programming in the next 12 months.  

Two webinars on Climate Change, Carbon, and Sustainable Agriculture and on Climate Critical Lands each reached about 70 participants.  

The mini-grant on Agricultural Plastics Recycling provided information to 35 Wisconsin agricultural educators through a webinar, and to 100 natural resource professionals nationwide through a presentation at the Ag Plastics Recycling Conference.  It also involved 5 Extension staff in organizing a successful agricultural and marina plastics recycling event in northern Wisconsin, which does not otherwise have access to agricultural plastic recycling service.  

The "Making the Connection: Supporting Farmers and the Agriculture Community During Challenging Times" mini-grant supported agriculture educators in their work with farmers by teaching and reinforcing the skills needed to recognize, connect, engage, and respond to farmers under stress and/or needing a 2 business or social service referral. Materials developed helped educators build confidence in their communication and listening skills and strengthen the relationships with their clients, and provided county-specific mental health resource information.

The pocket guides to help farmers learn the signs of mental health were distributed to 75 farmers in Door County, 125 farmers in Kewaunee County, and 150 farmers in Manitowoc County. Seventy-five resource guides for agribusiness professionals were distributed, helping these individuals recognize signs of mental health, how to make referrals, and numerous local resources related to health, mental health, financial support, and economic development. 

The "How to sell products to your local co-op" mini-grant provided local food marketing information to 31 farmers and food professionals through a webinar and supporting materials.  

30 high school and technical college agriculture instructors attended the workshop on sustainable agriculture resources and 24 attended the workshop on climate change and agriculture.  

In 2022 Wisconsin SARE


Educational & Outreach Activities

2 Journal articles
9 Minigrants
3 Published press articles, newsletters
19 Travel Scholarships
33 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

66 Extension
15 Researchers
30 Nonprofit
43 Agency
260 Farmers/ranchers
140 Others

Learning Outcomes

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

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

In 2021 Wisconsin SARE conducted the following Face of SARE activities:

  • Virtual SARE exhibit at the statewide virtual Land and Water Conservation Conference
  • Presentation about SARE to virtual meeting of Extension Agriculture staff
  • Presentation about SARE Partnership grants as part of series of professional development webinars for WI Extension Agriculture Institute staff
  • Grant-writing for Farmers webinars on October 6-7 

In 2022 Wisconsin SARE conducted the following Face of SARE activities:

  • SARE display at the GrassWorks Conference (~300 attendees)
  • SARE display at the WI Farm Bureau Conference (~300 attendees)
  • SARE display at the Wisconsin Farmers Union Convention (~200 attendees)
  • SARE display at the WI Cover Crops & Discovery Farms Conferences (190+ attendees)
  • Brief SARE presentation at a Wisconsin Women in Conservation field day (~30 attendees) 
  • Hosted a webinar on grant-writing for agriculture attended by 47+ agricultural educators and farmers. In addition, the recorded video has had 130 views  https://youtu.be/LvIID6soRVI
  • Published a column in Wisconsin Farmer on “Should You Apply for a Grant?” https://www.wisfarmer.com/story/opinion/columnists/2022/09/20/worth-your-time-pursue-grant/10359960002/ 
120 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
100 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.