Dr. Tim Woods is the UK State Coordinator and Brett Wolff is the Kentucky Program Assistant. In addition to his leadership of the program, Dr. Woods has brought expertise in the areas local food marketing systems, small farm decision making and specialty crop economics. Brett continues to act as a networker for the program, identifying new opportunities for collaboration and new venues to share SSARE resources. In our proposed programming this year, we have decided to focus on supporting a program that helps agriculture outreach providers to support Recovery Gardens, and to help agents expand their capacity for identifying and supporting producers who may need and qualify for AgrAbility support. We also plan to support agriculture outreach providers and producer leaders in seeking professional development through our Sustainably Agriculture Professional Development Fellowships. While the bulk of programming costs associated with the Third Thursday Thing are included in the Kentucky State University proposal, we do provide support to their monthly workshops and the program assistant supports both programs.
Project objectives from proposal:
A key component of our approach is the establishment of a formal peer support network for local Extension educators across the ANR-FCS divide who are interested in or involved in this type of work to facilitate problem-solving and the implementation of best practices, while also building much-needed social support. While this program funding is focused on training agents, there will be behavior change for participants as well. The project builds on a successful pilot project spearheaded by the Nutrition Education Program; programs have been established in eight counties over the last three years and evaluation results indicate that participants increased their fresh vegetable consumption (an average of 67% percent change at program exit). Furthermore, by exposing socially disadvantaged individuals to gardening, the program motivates those in recovery to consider establishing a future career in small-scale, sustainable agriculture.
KSU’s target audience is a blend of Extension, NRCS, research, and governmental personnel. We also place strong emphasis on professional development of producer leaders in the community who are poised to share the information learned at the Third Thursday Thing with many of their neighbors. We engage in Focus Group feedback throughout the year, and we collect and analyze attendance data to ensure that we are recruiting a balanced group of attendees. For the UK portion, our focus is on developing the capacity of our technical assistance professionals in the state. In our experience these groups do not have abundant funding to support their continued professional development in the field of sustainable agriculture. The main objective of these efforts is for these professionals to acquire knowledge, skills, and networks that allow them to better serve their clientele.
AgrAbility Professional Development Expansion
Extension agents and other participating ag outreach providers will be able to identify clients who may be able to benefit from AgrAbility programs. Participants will then be able to coordinate with state-level specialists to provide the right kind of support to this often-underserved group of clients.
Professional Development Fellowships
Extension agents and other participating ag outreach providers will gain knowledge about sustainable agriculture practices including production and marketing, and will make plans to apply that knowledge to the farm enterprises they support. Participants will also gain a deeper understanding of how governmental, university, and nonprofit entities might better collaborate to support sustainable agriculture in Kentucky. We will ask attendees to complete a reflection and evaluation indicating how they plan to use the information they learn.