A Tri-State Expansion: Educator Training using the Farm Beginnings Model

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2004: $74,856.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2007
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Catherine Twohig
Land Stewardship Project

Annual Reports


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: mentoring, youth education
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, public participation, community development

    Proposal abstract:

    There are beginning and transitioning farmers who seek support for their dreams of sustainable enterprises and there are Midwest educators who would like to see them achieve it. At the requests of educators in Illinois, Missouri, and Nebraska, “A Tri-State Expansion: Educator Training Using the Farm Beginnings Model” takes Land Stewardship Project’s proven model on the road. Farm Beginnings staff and leaders will train educators to coordinate curriculum training, select steering committees, recruit and train mentors, prepare promotional/media materials, identify beginning farmers, and determine a launch date for the first beginning farmer training program in each pilot state. On-site educators will assess and build their community’s readiness replication of the model in other communities. The proposal’s target audience includes local educators such as Extension, NRCS, lenders, farmers, and other professionals, as well as beginning farmers themselves. This proposal has short-term goals related to establishing a community foundation to support such a training model. Longer-term goals address actual training programs, an educated pool of committed community educators, a met demand for beginning farmer programs, and more sustainable farmers on the land. Numbers of participants and their demographics as well as pre- and post-training evaluations, site needs assessments, and each site’s own timetable and monitoring tools will help us measure the progress and success of this project. This proposal addressed the specific priority on Sustainable Agriculture and Community Development.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1.) Short-term: community awareness and support of beginning farmers, knowing where a pilot site sits on the readiness scale, a grasp of how to transfer the Farm Beginnings Model elsewhere in the state, better-informed beginning farmers due to the course, and a tangible faith by educators across the board in a future for sustainable farming.
    2.) Intermediate: 60 trained community educators versed in beginning farmer needs, networks build upon beginning farmer needs, three successfully-launched farmer training programs with on-farm mentoring pairs, at least 30 farm families pursuing financially viable farm enterprises among the three pilot states, educators engaged both with beginning farmer students and with their peers in replicating the program in other regions of their states, and training tools to make it possible.
    3.) Long-term: an established and diverse pool of community educators equipped with the mind set, skills, and resources to help beginning farmers as measured by the numbers and nature of involved people and media coverage, for example, and a change in the NCR Survey of Extension Educators; a widespread demand as measured by active farmer organizations, and the number and availability of training options, participants, and dollars available to pursue them; strong community support for its beginning farmer training program and many more sustained and sustainable farmers on the landscape as measured by program graduated and statistics on farmers, acreage, production methods, and profitability.

    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.