Establishing a Professional Agroforestry Certification and Learning Network for Education and Exchange

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2023: $119,962.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2026
Grant Recipient: University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry
Region: North Central
State: Missouri
Project Coordinator:
Hannah Hemmelgarn
University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry


  • Fruits: berries (other), paw-paws, persimmon
  • Nuts: chestnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, walnuts
  • Additional Plants: ginseng, other, trees
  • Miscellaneous: mushrooms, other, syrup


  • Crop Production: agroforestry, alley cropping, forest farming, silvopasture, windbreaks
  • Education and Training: demonstration, mentoring, networking, technical assistance, workshop
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, hedgerows, hedges - woody, riparian buffers
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems

    Proposal abstract:

    Agroforestry is a set of practices that, when effectively implemented, can simultaneously improve ecological health and farm profitability. Climate-smart agriculture and forestry programs are increasingly making financial incentives for agroforestry available to farmers. However, specific training and skills are required for successful long-term planning, design, and implementation of integrated perennial tree and shrub crops managed as part of a diversified farm system. In order to meet the growing demand for agroforestry in recent years, farmers and assistance provider partners have voiced a need for a standardized professional development and recognition program to identify trained and trusted agroforestry technical assistance providers, and for a mechanism to connect these designated professionals with interested local practitioners.

    To address this need, the Center for Agroforestry is prepared to pilot an agroforestry certification program and learning network that increases the visibility and accessibility of trained technical assistance providers (NRCS planners and TSPs, Extension, and other agriculture professionals). Established with our existing Agroforestry Training Academy as the core curriculum, we intend to pilot this certification program in Missouri, where we have strong existing relationships and contextual understanding. A public, online network map of qualified agroforestry assistance providers will complement local field trainings facilitated in collaboration with experienced agroforestry practitioners. Virtual and in-person network training events will serve as continuing education for certified agroforestry professionals, and as a space for ongoing connection. Together, these efforts will result in accelerating and deepening impact for successful agroforestry adoption, and regional expansion of the professional certification.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Formative evaluation report of knowledge gaps and needs

    150 Agroforestry Academy alumni and experienced producers in Missouri will be asked to complete this assessment to inform specifics of certification participation and continuing education needs. A report of the evaluation will be shared with our advisory group for project development.

    • Defined standards and requirements for certification

    Formative assessment results will guide standards and requirements for initial certification and maintenance. Recruitment materials with this information will be disseminated to at least 300 potential participants through partners in NRCS, Extension, and relevant producer organizations (e.g., The Center for Regenerative Agriculture, The Nature Conservancy etc.).

    • Pilot Agroforestry Certification Program in Missouri

    Within the first year, the project will aim to certify and map 20 TAPs. Each individual's affiliation, specialty knowledge area (if applicable), and contact availability will be indicated on the map. The project will certify 20 additional individuals in each subsequent year, resulting in a state-wide network map of 60 agroforestry-certified TAPs.

    • Learning Network Map

    This Network Map will serve as a space for visibility and connectivity, identifying certified agroforestry TAPs and experienced practitioners in an interactive and accessible online format with at least 100 participants engaged during the project period. A printed version of this map will also be produced each year to reduce barriers to online participation and will be disseminated to outreach partners across Missouri.

    • Online feedback and evaluation forum for continuous input

    As a complement to the Network Map hosted on the Center for Agroforestry’s website, a forum will be developed for participants and others engaging in the network exchange to continuously share feedback, needs, and resources.

    • At least 10 hours of annual continuing education programming

    Each year, two 3-hour in-person educational field experiences will be hosted in collaboration with established agroforestry practitioners (approx. 30 TAPs at each), and at least two 2-hour virtual special topics trainings will be offered by UMCA faculty and/or staff to share research-based best practices for agroforestry implementation (approx. 50 participants at each). Focused content areas in these offerings will be determined by formative evaluations of network participants’ needs.

    • At least 600 Missouri producers impacted by certified agroforestry professionals

    We expect each of the 60 certified-agroforestry TAPs to reach at least 10 active farmers and ranchers in Missouri during the grant period. These individuals are positioned to continue applying their enhanced skills and expertise to inform, improve, and expand agroforestry adoption in Missouri.

    • Standards for NCR-SARE region-wide Agroforestry Certification.

    We intend this project to serve as a three-year pilot within Missouri, establishing the program as a paradigm for fellow organizations to model and collaborate with, cultivating long-term connections across the region. Certified professionals, with regional partners including Barbara Decre of the Savanna Institute, members of Green Lands Blue Waters, and other University-led institutions, will serve an advisory capacity with two annual meetings to determine regional initiation of the certification using analogs of the Agroforestry Academy and field training as core requirements.

    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.