Energy Training for Agricultural Professionals in the Southern SARE Region
The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) and the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) are training agriculture professionals from the Southern SARE Region as Energy Educators. Participants will be chosen by a competitive application process, to participate in an intensive three-day course that includes classroom training and hands-on experience. After successfully completing this training, these educators will lead training efforts in their own communities, helping farmers and rural landowners manage their energy resources profitably and sustainably. Course graduates will also develop a network for energy-related communication and support.
- At least 25 agricultural educators will complete an intensive three-day course of training and will be certified as Agricultural Energy Specialists. Extension Agents and Specialists, as well as field staff members from any USDA agency, are eligible to apply. Training topics will include energy efficient farming systems, biofuels, biopower, solar, and wind energy.
Course graduates will be able to refer producers to appropriate avenues of funding and technical assistance for their energy-related projects.
Course graduates will be able to conduct a basic farm energy audit.
Course graduates will understand and be able to implement strategies for sustainable biofuel crop production, including reducing soil and water-related impacts.
Course graduates will stay in touch with each other and will provide mentoring and mutual support, as members of a continuing network of Agricultural Energy Specialists.
Course graduates will be supported by their supervisors and offices, enabling them to deliver energy training and technical assistance to agricultural producers and other state and local professional colleagues.
By the end of this two-year project, course graduates will be involved in organizing at least 15 local or regional energy training events.
By the end of this two-year project, course graduates will assist at least 75 farms within the Southern SARE region in incorporating renewable energy into their operations, improving their energy efficiency, and developing energy-related economic enterprises.
What work has been accomplished to date?
We have assembled a project team of 29 people, including educators and agricultural producers from throughout the Southern SARE region. We held team meetings by teleconference in September, November, January, and March, and created a project website (www.entap.org). We also created a web-based collaborative workspace for team members: for articles, discussion, and meeting notes.
We surveyed project team members about high priority information needs in their states, and also reviewed a national survey of Cooperative Extension personnel. Based on these surveys, we have created a draft agenda for the training, which will take place September 30-October 2, 2009 at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS).
We made application materials available in mid- February, with an application deadline of April 30, 2009. We publicized this training opportunity widely via Southern SARE and Extension networks, as well as by direct contacts from project team members. Announcements were also posted on CEFS and NCAT websites as well as in ATTRA News, Weekly Harvest, and other newsletters. NCAT sent press releases to over 100 agricultural and energy organizations, educators, advocates, and newspapers.
Finally, we have identified some course instructors and made tentative lodging arrangements at the Country Inn and Suites in Goldsboro, NC.
What work is left to do?
In the six months between now and the training, we need to choose participants; finalize the speakers, agenda, pre-training writing exercises; hold three more steering committee meetings; and put together course materials and handouts. We also need to make many logistical decisions and arrangements.
Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes
The campaign to develop renewable energy from agricultural lands is full of uncertainties and risk, for both landowners and the environment. The South is about to undergo some of the most dramatic changes in agriculture and land management anywhere in the United States, and it is arguably the region that is least prepared for these changes.
We envision a growing network of energy educators who will help agricultural producers in the Southern SARE Region manage their energy resources profitably and sustainably.
Course participants will become knowledgeable energy resource persons, and will deliver energy-related technical assistance to agricultural producers. Each course participant will organize at least one local or regional energy-related training event, within a year after completing the course. Course graduates will also become part of a growing network of Energy Educators.
An important outcome of this project is that course participants will be supported by their supervisors and offices, enabling them to deliver ongoing energy training and technical assistance to agricultural producers and professional colleagues.
CALS Coordinator for Sustainable Agriculture
NC State University
P.O. Box 7620
Raleigh, NC 2769-5855
Office Phone: 9195155825
Cooperative Extension Program Marketing Specialist
NC A&T State University
PO Box 21928
Greensboro, NC 27420
Office Phone: 3363347956
Director, Laboratory and Quality
220 Lorax Lane
Pittsboro, NC 27312
Office Phone: 9193218260