Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems: Student Internships Development Plan

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2008: $29,983.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Western
State: Montana
Principal Investigator:
Dr. William Dyer
Montana State University

Annual Reports


  • Agronomic: barley, canola, potatoes, sunflower, wheat
  • Vegetables: asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, cabbages, carrots, cauliflower, celery, garlic, greens (leafy), lentils, onions, peas (culinary), sweet corn, brussel sprouts
  • Additional Plants: herbs
  • Animals: bees, poultry


  • Animal Production: free-range, manure management, grazing - multispecies, grazing - rotational
  • Crop Production: conservation tillage
  • Education and Training: technical assistance, farmer to farmer, networking, on-farm/ranch research, participatory research
  • Farm Business Management: new enterprise development, cooperatives, community-supported agriculture, market study, whole farm planning
  • Natural Resources/Environment: biodiversity, habitat enhancement
  • Pest Management: biological control, biorational pesticides, botanical pesticides, competition, compost extracts, cultural control, economic threshold, field monitoring/scouting, flame, integrated pest management, mulches - killed, mulches - living, physical control, mulching - plastic, cultivation, precision herbicide use, soil solarization, mulching - vegetative
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems, holistic management
  • Soil Management: composting, earthworms, green manures, organic matter, soil analysis, nutrient mineralization, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: new business opportunities, urban agriculture, urban/rural integration, sustainability measures


    Progress has been made on all objectives. Criteria for appropriate and effective SFBS Program Internships have been developed after extensive and thorough consultation with the SFBS Core Team, Internship Advisory Task Force, individual internship hosts and others. A menu of verified and appropriate internship options for SFBS students has been created that will meet hosts’ needs through advancing their production, processing or marketing enterprise agendas through research, demonstration and/or education. Extramural funding from several sources has been obtained to help establish the internship program. A host/intern guidebook that addresses host training needs, student and host expectations, rules, reporting procedures and other topics is almost complete. The first cohort of eight students will carry out their internships in summer 2011.


    Montana State University recently initiated a Sustainable Food and Bioenergy Systems (SFBS) B.S. degree involving three departments in two colleges. This grant funded a project to advance students’ capacity to achieve Western SARE goals by developing – jointly with sustainable producers, processors and marketers – Internships that meet specific sustainable agriculture and food enterprise needs in Montana. Internships will enhance local food production, processing and distribution, helping to ensure viable rural communities in Montana and quality of life for participating farmers. Projects will engage students’ skills and energy to help their hosts meet research, demonstration or education goals.

    Project objectives:

    a. Develop criteria for appropriate and effective SFBS Program Internships (web-published).

    b. A menu of verified and appropriate Internship options for SFBS students, probably to start in summer 2010 (the program is slated to begin enrolling freshmen and sophomores in autumn 2008). Internships will be designed to meet hosts’ needs, advancing their production, processing or marketing enterprise agendas through research, demonstration and/or education. The team anticipates the need for 10-20 web-published Internship options by summer 2011, and more to follow each year.

    c. Grants written for implementation of the Internships designed through this development project.

    d. Identification of Internship host training needs for working effectively and productively with students.

    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.