Intensive Short Course on Grant Preparation for Future Applicants to the LISA Competitive Grants Program
During the FY 90 LISA technical review process, much discussion focused on the quality of proposals which were submitted. While the majority met the intent of the LISA program, it was clear that many proposal authors lacked adequate experience with the details of technical writing -- especially as related to the preparation of competitive grants. Such was not unexpected, as several proposals originated from farmers, farmer collectives, personnel with the Soil Conservation Service, etc. Following the review of FY 90 LISA proposals, discussion was held on the possibility of offering an intensive short course on technical proposal preparation as a vehicle for increasing the quality of LISA proposals submitted in future years. Such a course would NOT be for university-based faculty, whose needs to acquire extramural funding should have already provided experience in competitive grant writing. Rather, the course would be aimed at farmers, farmer groups, Soil Conservation Service personnel and others whose normal jobs do not encompass the writing of competitive grant proposals. This project proposes a course in grant writing and stems directly from post-review discussions following the FY 90 LISA review process. The course will be held the second week in January, 1992.
(1) Hold a five-day intensive training short course on Grantwriting on the University of Florida campus, Gainesville, Florida.
(2) Target individual farmers, representatives of farmer groups, and any other LISA-relevant persons (1-2 per state from the LISA Southern Region) and pay their travel, per diem and course costs.
(3) Enable participants to emerge from the five-day course with a first-draft LISA proposal which they can revise and actually submit to the LISA program at the proximate submission date.
This course offered the potential of elevating non-university persons to a more competitive level with university faculty in the area of competitive grant writing. It offered a vehicle for making farmers themselves (a stated objective of the SARE/ACE effort) more competitive for SARE/ACE funds through submission of science-based competitive grant proposals.
The course consisted of five days (8-9 hrs/day) of experiential training. The focus was solely on the intent, structure, format and details of preparation of SARE/ACE competitive grants. Past experience demanded focus on development of an ability to state proposal objectives explicitly and then to match experimental design and proposed analyses to each objective (on an objective-by-objective basis). Participants wrote an explicit statement of their proposal objectives, then drafted rationale and justification sections. Experimental design and timetable sections were then drafted along with a budget. The result of intensive work by the participants resulted in each arriving at a fairly good draft proposal. The course also resulted in an increased ability of the participants to have a relevant proposal drafting conversation with university counterparts.