2022 Western SARE State Professional Development Program

Final report for WSP22-001

Project Type: PDP State Program
Funds awarded in 2021: $28,636.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2023
Host Institution Award ID: G291-22-W7905
Grant Recipient: Board of Regents, Nevada System of Higher Education on behalf of University of Nevada, Cooperative Extension
Region: Western
State: Nevada
State Coordinator:
Holly Gatzke
University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
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Project Information


Nevada’s SARE-Professional Development Program (PDP) will support training for Cooperative Extension faculty
and staff, faculty from the University of Nevada’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources,
and any other Government/Non-government agency or organizations that apply for support. Training will
improve their knowledge and understanding of SARE principles related to sustainable agriculture. SARE-PDP
funds will help professionals incorporate sustainability principles in education, technical assistance and outreach
programs. SARE funding may also, support inter-agency teams (assembled by Extension) to hold training
sessions in Nevada with national experts and from Nevada’s agricultural community, including state and federal
agencies and farmers.

Project Objectives:

In 2019-2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many sustainable agricultural conferences, training sessions and tours have been canceled. This has prevented awarding any travel scholarships and mini-grants. As the pandemic threats decrease in the future, there will be many conferences and activities rescheduled. This will increase the demand for WSARE funds in 2022.

Nevada’s SARE-Professional Development Program (PDP) for 2022 will continue to support training for Cooperative Extension faculty and staff, faculty from the University of Nevada’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, and any other Government/Non-government agency or organizations that apply for support.

Due to the lack of sustainable agricultural resources available in Nevada, professionals need to seek outside training to improve their knowledge and understanding of SARE principles related to sustainable agriculture, which include profit over the long term, stewardship of our nation’s land, air and water, and quality of life for farmers, ranchers and their communities.

SARE-PDP funds will help professionals incorporate sustainability principles in education, technical assistance and outreach programs. SARE funding may also, support inter-agency teams (assembled by Extension) to hold training sessions in Nevada with national experts and from Nevada’s agricultural community, including state and federal agencies and farmers.


In 2020, Nevada’s State Agricultural Overview Report (https://www.nass.usda.gov/Quick_Stats/Ag_Overview/stateOverview.php?state=NEVADA) indicated that Nevada had only 3,350 farming operations (down from 4,000 farming operations in 2017) and 1,821 acres per operation. However, when examining the total direct and indirect influence of agriculture on the Nevada economy of approximately $40 billion, the Ag industry still has
significant opportunities through two key concepts: the value chain and food hubs. With growing competitive pressures, both domestically and internationally, and with enterprises from multinationals to micro enterprises, the concept of value chain will be a useful tool in identifying opportunities in farming new crops, exporting, gaps in food processing, support services, wholesale/distribution and retail (Agriculture Cluster Study for Nevada, 2017).
Nevada’s agricultural industry has been the consistent, baseline industry in the state. While other industries have had their boom-and-bust cycles or bubbles that have burst, agriculture has been steady and reliable. The producers have learned how to produce crops and livestock that are compatible with the high desert environment. That consistency and reliability has been an asset and a liability to the industry. While agriculture provides a steady job base, it is overlooked due to the comparison to the size of the agricultural industry in California and the size and perceived economic impact of other industries in the state.
As stated in many studies, the sustainability of rural communities is at stake. The keys to the preservation and prosperity of a valuable part of the American landscape will be based on a community-wide scale. Understanding that the community is much larger than the local county, is necessary to ensure that food continues to be plentiful, available and at a reasonable price. Extension educators, Extension specialists and
other agricultural professionals need training about the best ways to provide sound economic and practical
advice for those considering agriculture as a supplemental or primary income.


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Educational approach:

SARE's Professional Development Program (PDP) provides training, grants and resources for ag professionals to build their awareness, knowledge and skills related to sustainable agriculture concepts. PDP opportunities are intended for a wide range of professionals, including:
Cooperative Extension Service
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
Farm Service Agency (FSA)
the private sector

The PDP program includes two key components: competitive grants awarded at the regional level for the development of training curricula, outreach efforts, communications projects and similar work; and a network of state coordinators, working part-time for SARE in each state and island protectorate, who hold workshops and field days to share sustainable practices and research results, provide travel scholarships for ag
professionals to attend training events, and generally serve as sustainable agriculture resources in their state.

Education & Outreach Initiatives

Establishing a 4-H Pollinator Ambassador Program in Nevada PT 2

An Extension team across Nevada will explore how best to develop a Youth Pollinator Ambassador project through attending national training with some youth ambassadors, develop workshops and provide two statewide tours for youth. The goal is to educate and develop interest in youth in the needs of their natural environment and encourage them to educate others about these needed sustainable practices.


The 4-H Pollinator Ambassador Program team included: Lindsay Chichester, Katelyn Brinkerhoff, Jessica Gardner, Rachel McClure, Sarah Chvilicek, Kelsey Conklin, Carrie Stark, Lori Leas, Kenny Haack-Damon, and Anay Gomes.

After gaining education on youth pollinator projects in the country and holding workshops, the 4-H Pollinator Ambassador Program Team ran two state-wide tours. One focused on pollinators and pollinator habitats in the northern part of the state, and the other focused on the southern part. Program participants will be encouraged to attend both tours but will be expected to attend at least one. The northern area pollinator tour occurred on July 2024, 2023. The southern area pollinator tour occurred on October 5-8, 2023.

Outcomes and impacts:

Our extension team and the 11 pollinator ambassadors received the two-day northern and southern area roadshows very well. They were able to better understand different growing conditions, plant breeding and selection, pollinator habitat, beekeeping, seed saving, and more. After the tours the youth engaged in public events to provide education on what they learned.

The programs were extensive and life-changing for the youth. Youth who participated in the pollinator program indicated their interest in learning science, educating others, and making changes in the community increased significantly. The attendees learned new things in science (88%), Talked about how science can be used to solve everyday problems (75%), and shared a science project with others (88%) (survey n=8). 75% of those surveyed said they were interested in advocating for agricultural issues that impact the world, and 50% were interested in learning more about food production. The youth were 15 to 18 years old, and 63% were from an urban area with over 50,000 people.  The long-term impacts that are in effect.


Western States Agrivoltaics

Develop a tour of western state agrivoltaic research and demonstration sites to learn the discoveries occurring in agrivoltaics and what can be done in Nevada.


The Western SARE Grant funded a Western States Agrivoltaics Tour of operations and research in Arizona, California, Colorado and Oregon.  Misha Allen toured ten sites ranging in size from a small Elementary School site plot to a sprawling utility-scale operation with over 3,200 acres.  This demonstrated the scalability of agrivoltaic operations:  shared land use projects incorporating agriculture, solar, and wildlife conservation exist and are feasible at a utility-scale.  Such shared land use projects require different operations and management approaches – not harder, just different – deviating from the solar industry’s standard models. THis project was funded by the 2020 grant too.

Outcomes and impacts:

Discussions with the researchers and scientists at the toured sites informed current research needs:

  • AVS on Public Lands – can inexpensive land leases increase new ag producers in the industry?  Can it increase agricultural acreage under production?  Can it increase the quantity of ag products for consumption and use?
  • Community Benefit Agreements – how to leverage them with large projects to contribute to community sustainability
  • What does the solar industry need to adapt its business operation and management models to accommodate shared land use strategies like agrivoltaics?

As a result, two publications were developed for public education:

  • Allen, M.  (2023).  Agrivoltaics – Revisioning Solar in Nevada.  University of Nevada, Reno Extension Informational Publication.  Reno, NV.  IP-23-02.
  • Allen, M.  (Submitted 09/2023).  Agrivoltaics Potential in Nye County and Nevada.  University of Nevada, Reno Extension Fact Sheet.  Reno, NV.  FS-xx-xx.

The learnings were shared through four presentations to 81 participants:

  • Two presentations provided to Nye County Planning Department and Natural Resources Department administrators as they develop policy to address the influx of solar permit applicants on private and public lands
  • One presentation to California State University, San Luis Obispo NR310 Global Climate Change students
  • One presentation to University of Nevada Reno Engineering Department Faculty – potential AVS research collaboration emerged

Learning materials and technical assistance pertaining to agrivoltaics has been provided to Esmeralda County, Duckwater Shoshone Tribe, Duck Valley Shoshone-Paiute Tribes, and a community in Clark County.  Misha’s knowledge gained through this grant have been critical to educating and guiding my county and communities across the state.

Rangeland Work Professional development

To provide professional development to agricultural professionals, research scientists, agronomists, government agencies, Non-profit organizations, and farmer/producers. These opportunities will provide opportunities for agricultural professionals to provide education and outreach in sustainable agricultural practices in a variety of climes and locales.


WSARE funds in 2023 were used for Paul Meiman’s professional development to attend the Central Utah Grazing Expo where he learned about the poisonous plants cell phone app that USDA-ARS, Poisonous Plants Lab developed, about how low-tech, process-based meadow restoration was used in UT, and how the UT Public Lands Policy Committee addressed recent public lands policy issues that also affect Nevada. This education promotes good stewardship of natural resources and supports profitable, sustainable farming and ranching methods that strengthen agricultural competitiveness while enhancing natural resources.

Outcomes and impacts:

He has worked with Livestock producers, landowners, and natural resource managers (private, state, and federal agencies) to increase awareness and knowledge of the poisonous plants app., low-tech, process-based meadow restoration, and public lands policy issues so they may develop skills to identify poisonous plants and take appropriate measures to minimize livestock losses to poisonous plants. Others may push for improvements to public lands policies. Paul also attended the Society for Range Management International Annual Meeting, where he learned about a wide variety of issues and topics

WSARE Nevada State Coordinator activities

Support Sustainable agriculture education and development in Nevada and the western USA.


The Western SARE region held a Building Partnerships for Agricultural Sustainability Summit (BPASS) for a diverse group exploring new topics and disciplines, and partnerships to work in sustainable agriculture. This grant funded travel for Holly Gatzke, WSARE Nevada State Coordinator, to help the WSARE staff and attend the meeting.

Steve Foster provided sustainable agriculture support to Nevada Extension staff and producers by providing education directly, distributing SARE publications for events, and reviewing professional development and microgrant applications.

Books were ordered for workshops scheduled in March 2024 and the rest of the year. Equipment is ordered for new Extension staff to support sustainable agriculture in Nevada.

Outcomes and impacts:

Our work involved Steve providing sustainable agriculture one-on-one support for producers and SARE information to agriculture professionals across Nevada until his retirement in September. Holly has initiated planning for a stronger statewide approach and covered the WSARE state coordinator duties after Steve's retirement. The impacts can be found in the projects delivered and the preparation for next year.

Educational & Outreach Activities

9 Consultations
2 Curricula, factsheets or educational tools
1 Minigrants
3 Published press articles, newsletters
2 Tours
3 Travel Scholarships
9 Webinars / talks / presentations

Participation Summary:

15 Extension
18 Researchers
4 Nonprofit
17 Agency
31 Farmers/ranchers
21 Others

Learning Outcomes

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

Project Outcomes

1 Grant received that built upon this project
8 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
31 Farmers reached through participant's programs
Success stories:

One of our youth Ambassadors, Jay, was a beekeeper before joining this program. He is a very quiet, shy person who was pushed out of his comfort zone on our northern area road trip. On that trip, he had the opportunity to bond with the other youth, teach his peers about pollinators and their habitat, and learn new things about the region. He was a completely different person at the end of the event than he was at the beginning. Jay went back to his county Extension Office and made plans with them to start a 4-H Bee Club. Jay and his Mom will be running this new club in Elko (Elko County) and are very excited about being able to foster a love of bees in other youth.

Another of our Ambassadors, Kayla, began her first semester at the University of Nevada, Reno in August. She is studying environmental science, and while looking for an on-campus job, she found one that includes talking to groups about agriculture, crops, and pollinators. She felt confident in applying for this position because of her outreach and public speaking as a part of our program. She successfully obtained employment in this position and is loving it.

Face of SARE

Face of SARE:

The face of SARE was directly promoted through this project as workshop participants were educated on the SARE programs, various SARE grant programs and presented results from regional projects. The state coordinator also interfaced directly with multiple producers throughout the state, informing of sustainable agriculture practices and the SARE program.

89 Farmers received information about SARE grant programs and information resources
5 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.