Context, Justification and Assumptions:
The Arizona Sustainable Agriculture Development Program assists Extension agents and
specialists, Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel, producers, and other
agricultural/education professionals in their efforts to learn and apply the concepts and
techniques of sustainable agriculture systems. The SARE development program is important to
Arizona because it strives to link Cooperative Extension and USDA field personnel with
producers and agricultural professionals statewide. Organic, biodynamic, and permaculture and other producers of various scale apply sustainable agriculture principles to food and fiber
production systems in Arizona. A variety of marketing philosophies are used to connect with
consumers including farmers’ markets, consumer supported agriculture, field stands, local
markets, and internet sales. Additionally, Native American authorities and community members
desire to reconnect with their past agricultural heritage and seek assistance in learning and
teaching concepts that interface and enhance traditional agricultural techniques. The overall
natural arid environment of Arizona creates unique challenges for all producers and the current
long-term drought in the Southwest adds a critical emphasis. These issues make it important for the current 20 Arizona Extension agents, their supporting specialists, other agricultural
professionals, non-governmental entities, decision makers, producers, and consumers to work
together in a synergistic manner. The key for these linkages is effective communication and
partnership at all levels. For these reasons, it is important that all parties better understand the concepts of sustainable agriculture and the methodologies required to appropriately apply them in arid land conditions. Arizona programs facilitate the distribution of knowledge and
experience to stakeholders statewide. The state program coordinator encourages communication and interaction between interested parties in Arizona and all segments of the national and regional SARE programs.
In Arizona, great strides have been made in helping Extension faculty and others better
understand the nature and applicability of sustainable agriculture concepts. This increased
knowledge has been demonstrated in the adoption of sustainable agriculture principles into
Extension programming, in stakeholder awareness of SARE grant opportunities, and by
Extension faculty engagement with local sustainable agriculture producers. Specific needs that
requiring focus are detailed in the proposed activities for 2017-18. This application builds upon
a solid foundation previously laid and addresses the next needed steps to move the work forward.
Members of the Arizona SARE Advisory Committee provide input and direction to the program.
There are four members currently, all from Cooperative Extension. James Walworth, Peter
Warren, and Kelly Young with Rick Gibson as chair provide oversight and input. Producer input
comes from stakeholders known by the individual members. Needs assessment surveys help
guide programming. Additional stakeholder participation is achieved by partnering with
producers, agricultural professionals, producer organizations, and other outreach programs.
Individual agents receive suggestions, input, and feedback from the clientele with whom they
1. Financial – SARE funding provides financial support to enhance the development of
Arizona Extension PDP programs.
2. Human – The experience and professionalism of Cooperative Extension professionals,
including their professional education skills and their increasing understanding of
sustainable agriculture concepts and techniques; the guidance of stakeholders, and the
engagement of other agriculture education professionals; office support to assist with
proper documentation of resources, communications and benchmark information
3. Physical – Equipment and office space of participating agencies and organizations, weband
Internet-based support for the distribution of information.
1. Extension professionals taking the opportunity to participate in sustainable agriculture
seminars, conferences and other professional development activities through travel grants
will be better able to address local sustainable agriculture issues (short term)
2. Extension professionals participating in local workshops will feel comfortable adopting
or recommending adoption of sustainable agriculture techniques (medium term)
3. Trained professionals will teach the concepts that they have learned to their clientele
4. Agricultural operations will become more sustainable (medium and long term)
In an effort to reach as many agricultural producers and professionals as possible, the Arizona project engages agricultural and natural resources Extension professionals and provides training to them specific to their needs. These trained educators then, in turn, provide assistance, training, and consultations with their specific clientele and stakeholders, including NRCS, other governmental agencies, agriculture professionals and producers, and nongovernmental agencies. In so doing, sustainable agriculture techniques are disseminated throughout the Arizona industries. In 2018, Extension professionals were offered travel grants to meetings both within and outside of Arizona and one local workshop was provided.
Education & Outreach Initiatives
• Learn and apply basic principles of sustainable agriculture
• Study practicing sustainable agriculture systems in Arizona and elsewhere
• Encourage SARE grants applications
• Link with non-governmental organizations
• Strengthen infrastructure of local food systems
The Arizona sustainable agriculture professional development program (PDP) strives to help Extension, NRCS, non-governmental organizations, agricultural professionals, and agricultural producers understand and apply the principles of economic viability, environmental safety, and public awareness in the production and marketing of food, energy and fiber products. The Arizona PDP focuses on SARE goals and programs. The PDP program also encourages professionals to conduct research and education programs that will help build sustainable agricultural systems in Arizona.
Cooperative Extension, a vital part of The University of Arizona’s land grant mission, interacts with state and federal employees, producers, industry representatives, and non-governmental organizations to extend new knowledge and understanding in agricultural production techniques. Currently, the Arizona PDP focuses on helping Cooperative Extension agents, specialists, department heads with Extension appointments, and administrators learn sustainable agriculture concepts. These, in turn, reach out to expanded and larger audiences among their stakeholders.
Professional development efforts are generally focused upon current interests and needs of Extension professionals. Water conservation, heat stress management, soil health, production strategies, and farm marketing strategies are areas of concern in both plant and animal systems. Cooperative Extension and NRCS have primary responsibility to help clientele learn agricultural sustainability in arid lands.
Ten travel scholarships assisting nine Extension professionals defrayed travel costs to a wide variety of sustainable agriculture related meetings during 2018. Those professionals attending sustainable agriculture meetings reported that participation in these events helped them better understand sustainable agriculture techniques and gave them an increased ability to communicate with clientele.
A workshop attended by key Extension professionals was sponsored in part by SARE. Resulting exit conversations indicated an increased awareness of the requirements for SARE grant consideration, the basic tenets of sustainable agriculture, and an increased desire to sponsor and help work on future SARE related events and activities. Roughly half of those attending were new to Extension or new to SARE training.
Reference materials were purchased from SARE and distributed to specific stakeholder groups. Sustainable agriculture-related projects were supported and encouraged.
Participants in learning experiences report a greater understanding of sustainable agriculture concepts and an increased ability to communicate those concepts with others
Educational & Outreach Activities
Face of SARE
The Arizona sustainable agriculture professional development program (PDP) reaches out to and assists Extension, governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, agricultural professionals, farmers, and ranchers to understand and apply the principles of sustainable agriculture in the production and marketing of food, energy, and fiber products. The Arizona PDP focuses on SARE goals and programs. The PDP program also encourages professionals to conduct research and education programs that will help build sustainable agricultural systems in Arizona. Assistance is given to potential stakeholders, in the form of information and suggestions, to help them negotiate the grant application cycles.
A major focus for the Arizona Professional Development Program is to help Cooperative Extension agents, specialists, department heads with Extension appointments, and administrators learn sustainable agriculture concepts that they may use in their interactions with stakeholders.