Building a sustainable agriculture Extension network in Minnesota

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2020: $90,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2022
Grant Recipient: University of Minnesota Extension
Region: North Central
State: Minnesota
Project Coordinator:
Betsy Wieland
University of Minnesota Extension


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: cropping systems, water management
  • Education and Training: decision support system, extension, mentoring, networking, study circle
  • Farm Business Management: financial management, whole farm planning
  • Pest Management: integrated pest management
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, integrated crop and livestock systems
  • Sustainable Communities: analysis of personal/family life, local and regional food systems, sustainability measures

    Proposal abstract:

    Modeled loosely after the SARE Fellows program, this project will create a network of educators from University of Minnesota Extension’s Center for Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources (AFNR) with a common understanding and framework to help Minnesota farmers address sustainability issues. 

    Educators new to AFNR will be the target audience to participate in four sessions about how sustainability issues apply to agricultural sectors in Minnesota, thus equipping themselves to better create programming for their specific audiences.  An integrated approach will be used to look at the three legs of sustainability (people, environment, economics).  Three sessions will involve planned learning laboratories using selected farms as the classroom that will demonstrate and discuss how those sustainability issues apply across Minnesota agriculture.  The on-farm sessions will be preceded by a webinar to learn more about the sustainability concepts, as well as the farms and issues that they’ll see during the tour. This “flipped classroom” approach will help them take advantage of the in-person time and experience a methodology that’s been successful in other adult education issue areas.  The fourth session will both provide time to reflect on what they learned, and identify current programs and future potential work to support programming on sustainability concepts for their audiences.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    1. Three one-day on-farm learning laboratory sessions, each preceded by an introductory webinar to better take advantage of in-person time. 
    2. One final reflection and planning session.
    3. 25 educators participate in all four sessions.
    4. Summary report of reflections on sustainability issues in Minnesota and Extension’s role in addressing them.
    5. Map of current programs to address sustainability issues and gaps of programs that could be developed.
    6. Asset map of skills and interests of participants related to key sustainability issues (people, environment, and economics).
    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.