2019 Western Professional Development State Program - Arizona

Final report for WSP19-026

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2019: $45,886.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2023
Host Institution Award ID: G246-20-W7905
Grant Recipient: The University of Arizona
Region: Western
State: Arizona
State Coordinators:
Dr. Randy Norton
The University of Arizona
Dr. Debankur Sanyal
The Universitiy of Arizona
Expand All

Project Information


The opportunity to educate stakeholders in the state of Arizona regarding the principles and practices developed through the Sustainable Agriculture Research Education program within USDA has never been greater and more needed.  As we continue to face pressure on our most precious resource, water, we must implement sustainable agricultural techniques to conserve and preserve this resource.  Opportunities through statewide meetings, professional development activities for Extension personnel, and educational materials such as videos will all work together to inform our stakeholders about the principles and practices of sustainable agriculture that will prove most viable for implementation in their production systems whether they be small landowner systems or large commercial production systems.

Project Objectives:

The principal objectives of our Arizona SARE PDP program are to educate our target audiences of Extension faculty, NRCS personnel, NGOs, and other agricultural professionals in the concepts of principles of sustainable agriculture as they relate to specific conditions experienced by agricultural producers in the varied climate regions of Arizona.  Through the education of agricultural professionals, it prepares them to deliver these same concepts and ideas to the our stakeholders who are the growers and producers across the state of Arizona.  These educational objectives will be accomplished through the utilization of SARE resources to sponsor attendance at nationally recognized SARE events while also developing local and regional PDP opportunities related to sustainable agricultural production specific to Arizona conditions.  We will also use SARE resources to sponsor small research and extension grants (mini-grants) to further exploration into sustainable techniques specific to local conditions.  Local Extension professionals will be encouraged to apply for SARE grant opportunities.  All these activities will be carried out beginning in 2020.



Click linked name(s) to expand/collapse or show everyone's info
  • Elisabeth Alden (Educator)
  • Dan Pacheco - Technical Advisor
  • Aaron Cardona - Technical Advisor
  • Adam Spilsbury - Technical Advisor
  • Shaku Nair - Technical Advisor (Educator)


Educational approach:

The Arizona project involves agricultural and natural resources Extension specialists and professionals and offers them training tailored to their requirements in an attempt to reach and train/educate as many agricultural practitioners as possible. Following their training, these educators offer support, guidance, and technical consultations to their respective stakeholders, which include the NRCS, other governmental and non-governmental organizations, agricultural professionals, and producers. By doing this, sustainable agricultural practices are spread across Arizona's agricultural operations. In 2019-20, grants were provided to Extension professionals for their travel to meetings and conferences both inside and outside of Arizona.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

SARE Awareness

Through this program, we hope to raise awareness of SARE among agricultural stakeholders throughout the state of Arizona as well as among agricultural and natural resource professionals working in our university system.


Our goals were to distribute SARE instructional materials, do formal and informal presentations, set up informational booths, and take part in more events where SARE might sponsor in addition to providing information to stakeholders.

Outcomes and impacts:

Sponsorship of winter meeting of Arizona Agriculture Extension Association

Through this sponsorship, SARE covered a portion of the meeting costs and gave us the chance to speak to the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension's agricultural experts about themes related to SARE. This increased knowledge of SARE's funding opportunities and other resources. The amount of grant applications that Arizona agricultural professionals have filed has increased in the most recent round of SARE granting opportunities.

Sponsorship of a Sustainable Ag Conference organized by Southwest Black Ranchers in Arizona

Josh Sherman, the state coordinator, was able to attend the conference and provide delegates with information on SARE educational resources and grant opportunities. He also put up an education booth. The conference was focused on minority-based sustainable agriculture.

Facilitation of Professional Improvement

Provide agricultural professionals and stakeholders the opportunity to engage in professional development programs from a range of sources around the United States.


Professional development for stakeholders and agricultural professionals is a significant aspect of the Arizona State Implementation grant. This is mainly done by implementing travel scholarships that allow participants to attend events spread across the US, giving them the chance to learn and experience novel ideas as well as form new professional relationships that will help Arizona's farmers and agricultural experts. All scholarships that demand the winner to describe how this activity will improve their educational program or their industrial operation have an application process. In addition, they are requested to submit details on how they plan to record the advancements they make as a consequence of the professional development exercise.

Outcomes and impacts:

Each winner of a travel scholarship must fill out a pre- and post-trip form outlining their goals for the professional development activity and how they intend to use the information they acquire in their educational program or production process. The Arizona SARE office has these forms on file.

Over the course of the project's duration, funding for 16 travel and professional development scholarships was made available to agricultural professionals, growers, and producers across Arizona.

Educational & Outreach Activities

175 Consultations
10 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
3 Journal articles
15 On-farm demonstrations
10 Online trainings
18 Published press articles, newsletters
8 Tours
16 Travel Scholarships
32 Webinars / talks / presentations
22 Workshop field days

Participation Summary:

70 Extension
20 Researchers
40 Nonprofit
175 Farmers/ranchers

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

Additional Outcomes:

Agricultural professionals and stakeholders throughout Arizona are becoming more aware of SARE resources, both financial and educational. The resources have been made more widely known through the sponsorship of several training sessions, educational events, and travel scholarships offered to agricultural practitioners and producers. The state implementation program's efforts have also led to a rise in the number of grants that agricultural professionals have sought, mostly from the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension.

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

In order to understand and apply the principles of sustainable agriculture in the production and marketing of food, energy, and fiber products, the Arizona Sustainable Agriculture Professional Development Program (PDP) reaches out to and supports Extension, governmental agencies, non-governmental organizations, agricultural professionals, farmers, and ranchers. Arizona's PDP is centered around SARE initiatives and goals. Professionals are also encouraged by the PDP program to carry out research and develop educational initiatives that will support the development of sustainable agriculture systems in Arizona. Potential stakeholders get information and recommendations to assist them in navigating the grant application rounds.

The Arizona Professional Development Program places a lot of emphasis on teaching department heads with Extension appointments, administrators, specialists, and cooperative extension agents sustainable agricultural ideas that they may apply to their relationships with stakeholders.

250 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
75 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.