Building Social Equity into Agriculture and Food Systems Extension

Final report for WSP19-025

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $28,636.00
Projected End Date: 03/31/2022
Host Institution Award ID: G118-21-W7506
Grant Recipient: University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education Program
Region: Western
State: California
State Coordinators:
Jeffrey Stackhouse
University of California Cooperative Extension
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Project Information


This project will build on the 2017-2018 California PDP project, which is providing a one-time racial equity training workshop for extension professionals. This project will build a community of practice around social and racial justice in agricultural and food systems extension, and provide on-going training and networking opportunities on this topic. A series of webinars with experts and experienced extension professionals, an in-person training coupled with a visit to a farm operated by farmers of color, and an ongoing e-mail group will help extension professionals to continue to work together and support one another in honing the skills needed to foster constructive relationships of trust with farmers and ranchers of color. Successful sustainable agriculture extension that is holistic and context-specific requires close engagement with producers in a way that respects their cultural context and experiential knowledge. By learning how to achieve such mutually constructive relationships, extension professionals in California will help make extension services more widely accessible and responsive to the needs of the growing numbers of producers of color, who have historically been underserved by extension institutions.

Project Objectives:


  1. Increase knowledge and skills among California extension professionals around building constructive working relationships with producers of color and immigrant producers through a series of educational webinars (2021) and one in-person event (2022).
  2. Foster the development of a supportive community of practice among California extension professionals who are committed to better engaging traditionally underserved producers in California, including producers of color and immigrant producers, by hosting regular learning and networking opportunities (throughout 2020-21).
  3. Document and share lessons learned broadly through at least one extension-focused peer reviewed publication (2022).


Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Dan Macon (Educator and Researcher)
  • Rachel Surls (Educator and Researcher)
  • Sara Frazer
  • Cynthia Daley (Educator)
  • Hud Minshew


Educational approach:

This project utilizes three educational approaches.

The first is a series of educational webinars on specific topics identified as areas of need by farmers and extension professionals during SAREP's previous programmatic work. Webinar speakers will include both extension professionals and community experts. These webinars are intended to increase knowledge and skills among extension professionals in how to better collaborate with and serve socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.

The second approach is the facilitation of a Community of Practice among extension professionals in California who are committed to applying principles of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) across their organizations and in their programmatic work. This Community of Practice will provide opportunities for learning, networking, and collaboration with the goal of improving extension services for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. 

The third approach is a peer-reviewed publication documenting and sharing lessons learned.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Community of Practice

Foster the development of a supportive community of practice among California extension professionals who are committed to better engaging traditionally underserved producers in California, including producers of color and immigrant producers, by hosting regular learning and networking opportunities


In collaboration with extension colleagues across the state, SAREP staff played a central role in coordinating 11 monthly meetings of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Alliance of the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UCANR) from March 2020 -- January 2021. During this time, SAREP also coordinated the development of multiple subcommittees (ongoing) and project teams (time limited) to address priority issues identified during these monthly meetings, including:

DEI Subcommittees:

  • DEI Strategic Planning
  • DEI Policy
  • Workforce Diversification
  • DEI Learning
  • DEI Alliance Coordination and Outreach Committee

DEI Project Teams:

  • DEI Web Communications
  • DEI Affinity Groups Development
  • Diversity & Inclusion Style Guide Development
  • DEI Program Team Planning
  • Anti-racism Resources Review

These committees and project teams each met approximately every 2 weeks from March 2020 - January 2021 and reported back on progress during the monthly DEI Alliance meetings.


Outcomes and impacts:

The DEI Alliance now counts over 100 members - from among both professional staff and academic extension colleagues - within UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. While UC SAREP staff are no longer part of the core leadership team, we have seen many colleagues continue to come forward to lead the many affiliated subcommittees and project teams, whose work continues. UC SAREP staff also played a leading role in one of these project teams to successfully establish a UC ANR-wide Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Program Team. While the DEI Alliance is initially more focused on internal equity processes and policies within the institution, the DEIJ Program Team, like other UC ANR Program Teams, functions as a community of practice focused on developing members' capacity to conduct effective outreach, in this case with culturally diverse and socially-disadvantaged clientele. 

While not clearly attributable to this project alone, the development of both the DEI Alliance and the DEIJ Program Team has had consciousness-building effects that have already made a significant difference within the California extension community, and especially within UC ANR. In 2021, the leadership of UC ANR appointed a DEI Advisory Council to the Vice President, comprising 11 members, most of whom were already active in the DEI Alliance. As a result of advice from the DEI Council and the DEI Alliance, ANR Human Resources has already made an important change to the hiring process for new extension academics, which includes requiring a DEI Statement from each candidate to be rated independently of other application materials. UC ANR also recently released brand new extension positions for hiring in the coming year, for which several of the position descriptions were written by members of the DEI Alliance and the DEIJ Program Team. These positions include one that is specifically geared 100% toward working with communities of color and three geared 100% toward working with indigenous populations, as well as several others that note that people of color should be amongst the clientele. This marks the first time in history that Cooperative Extension in California will have positions explicitly oriented toward working with California native tribes. 

Webinar series - Racial Equity in Extension and in-person DEI workshop

Increase knowledge and skills among California extension professionals around building constructive working relationships with producers of color and immigrant producers.


UC SAREP organized a series of 6 webinars on topics identified through interviews with producers and extension professionals, discussions with the DEI Alliance, and prior programmatic work as high priority for increasing knowledge and skills among California extension professionals to better serve systematically disadvantaged farmers and ranchers. These webinars took place from June through December, 2021. Each webinar consisted of a facilitated panel discussion, followed by at least 30 minutes during which attendees could post questions to the panelists and hear their responses. The panel for each webinar comprised two to three people, from academics and extension professionals who work with these communities, to people of color who operate their own farm enterprises. Recordings of all 6 webinars have been posted on Youtube here: 

1. Farm Workers are Farmers - Outcomes from this webinar were reported in the final report for Project WSP18-004

This webinar, held on Friday, June 18, 2021, introduces the importance and value of engaging farm workers for agricultural sustainability. The webinar also offers suggestions for how extension professionals can better work to build relationships with farm worker organizations.

2. Serving Farmers of Color - Outcomes from this webinar were reported in the final report for Project WSP18-004

This webinar, held on Friday, June 25, 2021, describes how extension professionals can build constructive relationships with farmers of color and organizations that represent them.

3. Retracing the Roots of Sustainable Agriculture: Indigenous Perspectives and Practices

This webinar explored indigenous worldviews and their relationship to land stewardship and agriculture, the history of land grant universities and their troubled relations with indigenous communities, and how to engage with modern-day indigenous communities respectfully as extension professionals.

4. Retracing the Roots of Sustainable Agriculture: Leadership and Perspectives of farmers of color

This session explored how the cultural heritage of farmers of color has contributed to farming a sustainable landscape, and how farmers and farmers of color create their own information networks to solve problems on the farm.

5. Understanding Disparities in Farmland Ownership

This webinar explored the histories underlying current disparities in farmland ownership, highlighting different mechanisms by which racism intervened to dispossess people of land in California.

6. Catalyzing Land Sovereignty and Tenure for Indigenous Communities and Farmers of Color

This webinar highlighted a range of current, innovative initiatives for transferring land ownership and access to Indigenous communities and farmers of color

The in-person Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Workshop for technical service providers was held on a farm in Sonoma County and was organized by the California Alliance with Family Farmers as an add-on event to their annual California Small Farm Conference in March, 2022. After some facilitated exercises from an expert facilitator with professional experience in DEI workshops, the session provided space for participants to bring up gnarly issues they have been encountering in their organizations’ own work around DEI, and group brainstorming of responses and solutions.


Outcomes and impacts:

Webinars outcomes – webinars 3-6

The webinars #3 through #6 were attended as follow:

  • Webinar #3 on indigenous perspectives on sustainable agriculture: Approx 40 attendees
  • Webinar #4 on farmers of color perspectives on sustainable agriculture: 42 attendees
  • Webinar #5 on history of disparities in farmland ownership: 42 attendees
  • Webinar #6 on innovative approaches to land sovereignty and tenure: 26 attendees

Evaluation surveys were sent out to all attendees, and were filled out by a fraction of all attendees. Across all 4 webinars, respondents indicated that:

  • 48 respondents had increased awareness of the topics through the webinar(s)
  • 48 respondents had learned new knowledge
  • 17 respondents had learned new skills
  • 39 respondents had changed their opinions and/or attitudes about the topics
  • collectively, attendees planned to share information from the webinars with approximately 300 additional people. 28 will use information in educational programming with their own clientele, and 27 will use information in professional development with their peers.

From the respondents themselves:

“The emphasis on investing time and effort into building relationships is something that I will take into my work moving forward.”

“This webinar was extremely valuable…A-dae's identification of the Western worldview inherent even in "sustainable ag" and the need to be critical and reframe our language choices was particularly enlightening. I had never heard that criticism of the whiteness of sustainable ag framed quite that way before."

"This was a great webinar, thanks so much for providing the space for the important conversations."

In-Person DEI Workshop

As part of the 2022 California Small Farm Conference, this workshop attracted 25 individuals, the majority from the non-profit farm service sector, Resource Conservation Districts, food hubs, and Cooperative Extension. Due to the high level of engagement from participants, this session continued long past its formal ending time, and many participants found it very helpful.


Journal of Extension article

Broadly share a few key lessons learned on advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion with the greater extension community.


An article on "Moving the needle on racial equity in extension" has been drafted by Brodt et al, that briefly describes some of the key lessons learned during the webinars and community of practice activities, on how extension professionals and their institutions can increase the diversity, equity and inclusivity of both their internal organizations and their external-facing extension work.
This manuscript will be submitted for publication in the Journal of Extension in April 2022.

Outcomes and impacts:

Too soon to determine at the writing of this report.

Educational & Outreach Activities

1 Journal articles
2 Published press articles, newsletters
4 Webinars / talks / presentations
1 Workshop field days
61 Other educational activities: Community of Practice meetings (DEI Alliance meetings) - 11
Subcommittee and project team meetings - 50

Participation Summary:

121 Extension
15 Researchers
25 Nonprofit
28 Agency
2 Ag service providers (other or unspecified)
5 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

11 New working collaborations

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

We have promoted WSARE as the funder of this project through our collaboration and coordination activities with the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Alliance of the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (DEI Alliance). The DEI Alliance comprised approximately 50 members of UC Cooperative Extension and other UC staff across the state during the time of this project. California WSARE-funded mini-grants for professional development were also announced at 1 webinar, which occurred during the grants application period.

90 Ag professionals received information about SARE grant programs and information resources

Information Products

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.