Online Agroforestry Course for Professionals

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2020: $79,619.76
Projected End Date: 12/31/2023
Grant Recipient: Savanna Institute
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Coordinator:
Dr. Keefe Keeley
Savanna Institute

Information Products


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, alley cropping, silvopasture, windbreaks
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, riparian buffers

    Proposal abstract:

    Increasingly, agroforestry is recognized as a key to climate resiliency, healthy ecosystems, and thriving farms in the Midwest. The intentional integration of tree, crop, and livestock provides habitat, conserves water and soil resources, diversifies farm income, and sequesters carbon. Despite increasing interest in adopting agroforestry, studies have shown that though 90% of respondents were interested in agroforestry, most lacked adequate information about implementation, management, and marketing to adopt it (Strong and Jacobson, 2005). Farmers interested in agroforestry adoption face a knowledge bottleneck in the Midwest: their existing support networks don’t include knowledge or for support for agroforestry. 

    By developing an online agroforestry education course for professionals, the Savanna Institute will address this barrier to adoption. Our course will focus on agency and nonprofit personnel, educators, independent consultants and technical service providers, and provide a flexible set of online modules that can be taken for CEUs. The course will include an online resource library of educational materials, practicums, case-studies, and multimedia material that participants can draw upon to design or enhance their own training programs or agency educational materials. It will also produce case-study videos and facilitate an online community of practice for professionals. 

    The course will increase the total number of agricultural professionals with knowledge of agroforestry, provide accessible educational materials for trainers to employ in their own work, and, ultimately, make agroforestry education more accessible for farmers and landowners interested in adopting it on their land.

    Project objectives from proposal:


    • Agroforestry Course Curriculum for Professionals: five tracks of four modules each providing an adaptable format for professional participation.
      • Target audience: agency and nonprofit personnel, educators, independent consultants and technical service providers, farmers
    • Educational materials on topics like: farm business planning for agroforestry, alley cropping, conservation and agroforestry, and agroforestry supply chains.
      • Products will be a mix of pdfs and multimedia material
      • To facilitate participant adoption educational material for their own training programs, course curricula will include easily downloadable content compiled in a resource library and suggested workshop outlines and practicums.



    • 10 30-minutes videos created
      • Videos will feature at least 10 farmer collaborators who have adopted commercially viable agroforestry on their farms.
      • Videos will be integrated into course curriculum
    • Videos offer updated models for experiential learning when in-person visits may not be possible. 
      • When adapting course content for use in their own trainings, trainers can use the videos as accessible examples of agroforestry in action when in-person examples are not available for their region.
    • Education for wider, nonprofessional audiences. 
      • Target: Posted online, videos will reach an audience of 100,000 views by 2023.



    • Target: total program participants: 500 = 150 in Year 1 and 350 in Year 2. Of whom:
        • 400 complete at least 1 track (or 4 modules)
        • 100 will complete more than 2 tracks (8 modules)
        • 100 participants will begin but not complete a full track (4 modules).
        • Of those, 50 participants will complete at least 2 modules, but not a full track.



    • Online resource library of educational material and resources
    • Online library of scientific articles 
    • Downloadable so trainers can adopt content in their own work.
    • Target outcomes: 200 participants incorporate agroforestry-related content in existing programs within five years.
      • 20 new agroforestry-focused programs will be designed and delivered
      • 50 participants will create new educational materials for their agencies or nonprofits.



    • Participants will earn 1 credit for each module they complete.
        • Target outcome: 400 participants will earn at least 4 credits
        • 100 participants will earn at least 8 CEUs within five years
    • Participant surveys and assessments to improve course and evaluate progress through modules
      • Target: 450 surveys will be completed



    • Partnerships with agencies, nonprofits, educational institutions, professional associations, agricultural businesses and existing communities of practice (e.g. IL IDEA farm network, MN Silvopasture Learning Network, Practical Farmers of Iowa, Wallace Centers Regenerative Agriculture Innovation Network, WI Grazing Networks), as well as expanded opportunities for trainers to connect with each other across the region.
      • Target: 4 new partnerships focused on agroforestry education for professionals
    • Community of practice developed through periodic emails, shared resource library, online discussions, and networking opportunities
      • Target: 500 participants in community of practice emails, of whom:
      • 400 will access the shared resource library at least once to download relevant material
      • 200 will participate in at least 1 online discussion 
      • 100 will qualify for online directory reflecting substantial professional education in agroforestry.
    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.