North Carolina SARE (NC SARE) is a collaborative effort from North Carolina State University (NCSU) and North Carolina Agriculture & Technical State University (NCA&T). NC SARE promotes sustainable agriculture in North Carolina and supports sustainable agriculture trainings for agriculture professionals, which include North Carolina Cooperative Extension (NCCE) professionals and other educators defined by Southern SARE. NC SARE offers sustainable agriculture trainings primarily through competitive travel scholarships. These travel scholarships benefit agriculture professionals at all levels, as educators may apply for trainings that best suit their service regions/counties’ needs and resources, as well as their own level of expertise. Applications for technical and educational training in any area of sustainable agriculture can be submitted. Possible trainings may include, but are not limited to, the annual Carolina Farm Stewardship Association’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference (CFSA SAC), the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) Workshops, the NC Choices’ Carolina Meat Conference/ Women Working in the Meat Industry (CMC/WIM), and NCSU and NCA&T Field Days. NC SARE also offers the NC SARE Outstanding NCCE Educator award, in partnership with CFSA. This year, NC SARE will begin providing competitive funding to Extension Educators to provide a focused training to NCCE agents in a topic of sustainable agriculture. Guided by the Advisory Council, NC SARE has been a visible presence in NC sustainable agriculture and publicizing events through its website, the NC Extension portal, and Twitter, and providing sustainable agriculture educational materials, such as SARE publications, to trainers.
Project objectives from proposal:
NC SARE’s main outreach objective in 2017-2018 was to promote and help provide sustainable agriculture trainings for Cooperative Extension agents, NRCS and Soil and Water personnel, appropriate non-profit personnel, and mentor farmers so that these agriculture educators and leaders can pass on information and knowledge of sustainable agriculture practices to farmers, landowners, and the public. To achieve this main objective, NC SARE changed the smaller objectives to provide travel scholarships for professional development:
• to approximately 20 agents/personnel/farmers to attend the CFSA SAC,
• to 5 agents, personnel, and/or farmer to attend the SSAWG Conference,
• to 10 agents/personnel/farmers to attend the CMC/WIM,
• to provide funds for agents, personnel, and/or farmers to attend CEFS or other training events,
• to provide funds for training materials for the NC Small Farms Field Days.
In reality, in 2017-2018, NC SARE was able to offer partial or full travel scholarships for professional development to 100 Extension personnel. Events included sending 25 Extension agents to the CFSA SAC, 10 agricultural professionals to SSAWG Conference, 50 agents to NC Choices’ CMC/WIM, and 15 agents to the American Forage and Grasslands Council Conference, as well as provide training materials for the NC Small Farm Field Day.
The main objective for 2018-2019 will not change, however, the smaller objectives will. NC SARE plans to:
• Provide travel scholarships to approximately 13 agents/personnel/farmers to attend the CFSA SAC, 9 agents/personnel/farmers to attend the CMC/WIM,
• Provide 5-10 agents, personnel, and/or farmers to attend CEFS training events,
• Provide scholarships to 1-5 agents to attend other sustainable agriculture trainings that become available in NC,
• Provide funds for training materials for the NCA&T Small Farms Field Day
• Provide funds for a focused, Extension Specialist-led training for agents on a specialized aspect of sustainable agriculture.
We expect to offer travel scholarships and trainings to a total of approximately 24 agents, personnel, and/or mentor farmers. We expect 30-40 agents, personnel, and mentor farmers to participate in the NC Small Farms Field Days, which provides excellent training on production and marketing information for small farms, and the latest research applicable to small farms in NC. The focused sustainable agriculture training for agents will be selected by the NC SARE Advisory Committee and Coordinators through a competitive process for the training funds. The training will be chosen based on SARE priority areas for education in sustainable agriculture, the strength and practicality of the training, and how many agents can participate. An Extension Specialist will develop and lead the training, and it will be available to up to 50 Extension agents. Topics for this training could include, but are not limited to, cover crops, organic production, season extension, no-till/ conservation tillage, and local foods.
Sustainable agriculture trainings and travel scholarship opportunities will be publicized via the NC SARE website, twitter, and NC Extension Portal/ Intranet. NC SARE manages the website (www.sustainableag.ces.ncsu.edu) and maintains a regularly updated events calendar to promote local, regional and national sustainable agriculture trainings. NC SARE also manages the NC SARE twitter account and uses the account for outreach about sustainable ag training events and scholarships, as well as sustainable ag news from SARE. NC SARE outreach includes setting up information booths at major sustainable NC agriculture events, including the CFSA SAC, CMC/WIM, and the NC Extension Conference.
NC SARE travel scholarships provide NCCE educators and other agriculture resource professionals the opportunity to receive relevant trainings which suit the unique needs of the individual educators, their counties and their constituents. These diversified trainings provide learning opportunities that cover the broad scope of sustainable agriculture, fulfilling the goal of the SARE program to provide diverse education in sustainable agriculture. The primary expected outcome is to have a broader base of NCCE educators trained in sustainable agriculture.