Helping Agricultural Professionals and Mentoring Farmers to Train Previously Unreached Farmers about Sustainable Agriculture

Project Overview

Project Type: Professional Development Program
Funds awarded in 2020: $80,000.00
Projected End Date: 09/30/2023
Grant Recipients: Kentucky State University; Kentucky Center for Agricultural Development
Region: Southern
State: Kentucky
Principal Investigator:
Cynthia Rice
Kentucky State University
Dr. Maheteme Gebremedhin
Kentucky State University
Dr. Buddhi Gyawali
Kentucky State University
Dr. Shawn Lucas
Kentucky State University
Dr. Marion Simon
Kentucky State University
Dr. Leigh Whittinghill
Kentucky State University


Not commodity specific


  • Education and Training: extension, mentoring
  • Sustainable Communities: quality of life, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration

    Proposal abstract:

    For this project, we will develop curricula and educational modules about sustainable agriculture. The training curricula and modules will be developed from research-based information and/or existing models and used to train Extension agents, local NRCS and state agricultural professionals, and mentor farmers in a “train-the-trainer” format. The goals are to develop the sustainable agriculture curricula and modules, train agricultural professionals and mentor farmers to use these materials, and to pass the information to the targeted farmer groups through county meetings, one-on-one meetings, and multiple additional training venues. The targeted end users are new and beginning farmers, small-scale, limited-resource, and socially disadvantaged farmers, and farmers and their families who are low literacy and/or have limited English proficiency (LEP). Emphasis will be placed on the training needs of 1890 and 1862 Extension professionals and mentor farmers who work with beginning, Appalachian, women, low literacy, small-scale, socially disadvantaged, and underserved farmers. The modules will include training programs on best management practices, sustainable agriculture practices, organic production systems, soils, urban agriculture systems and opportunities, livestock production, pastured poultry production, and horticultural crops that are suitable for new, beginning, socially disadvantaged, and limited-resource farmers. Additionally, a limited number of production systems that were successfully used by farmers and farm families in the past will be tested and developed into educational modules if they appear to be sound sustainable agriculture practices.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Project Objectives

    OBJECTIVE 1: Develop sustainable agriculture curriculums and modules (approximately 1.5 hours each) that are suitable for new and beginning farmers, women, small-scale, limited-resource, Appalachian, and socially disadvantaged farmers, low literacy and/or LEP farmers, and farmers who are traditionally underserved. Identify skill sets to be incorporated into the modules.


    OBJECTIVE 2: Train 1890 and 1862 Extension agents, USDA and state agency professionals, and mentor farmers on the curricula and modules. Emphasis will be placed on the training needs of 1890 and 1862 Extension professionals and mentor farmers who work with beginning, Appalachian, women, low literacy, small-scale, socially disadvantaged, and underserved farmers.


    OBJECTIVE 3: Assist 1890 and 1862 Extension agents and professionals to understand the special training needs of new, beginning, socially disadvantaged, low literacy, historically underserved, and limited-resource farmers with respect to implementing sustainable agriculture practices on their farms and utilizing the modules and curricula.

    Project Activities

    1. Develop curricula, modules, and skill set training activities using existing, historical, and newly developed research-based materials for Extension agents, state and local USDA professionals, mentor farmers, and others.
    2. Refine and revise modules and curricula through evaluations and three focus group sessions composed of Extension agents, mentor farmers, and other agricultural professionals.
    3. Provide training on up-to-date sustainable agriculture methods, theory, and curricula and modules to Extension and other agricultural professionals and mentor farmers. Training activities include programs during three KSU Third Thursdays, two KSU Small Limited Resource Minority Farmers Conferences, two Kentucky Women in Agriculture Conferences, two Eastern Kentucky Farmers’ Conferences, two 1890/1862 district Extension agent trainings, two KSU quarterly agent training programs, and one-on-one training opportunities. From this, we expect all of the 1890 agriculture Extension agents, 40% of the 1862 agricultural Extension agents, and 25 mentor farmers to be trained on curricula and modules. The Kentucky Center for Agricultural and Rural Development (KCARD) will also provide mentor farmer training activities.
    4. Develop and administer a follow-up survey to assess whether the materials were used in farmer training activities.

    Conduct three focus group sessions to determine if agricultural professionals had a behavior change related to the targeted farmer populations or sustainable agriculture.

    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.