The overall objectives of the 2021-2022 SC SARE Program will be to continue the existing strategic and collaborative planning process for statewide sustainable agriculture development; provide professional development opportunities for Extension agents, NRCS field staff and other agriculture professionals; reward outstanding service; and to continue to organize and support in-service training in sustainable agriculture practices. The MSP Assistant will work with the state SARE coordinators and program advisory committee to organize training activities for 1890 and 1862 Extension and other agriculture professionals that will address critical needs identified by program stakeholders. The program is guided by stakeholder input through an advisory committee consisting of farmers, agriculture professionals, non-government representatives and others with an interest in sustainable agriculture development. Our mission/strategic plan is to foster the adoption of sustainable agriculture practices statewide through education and outreach programs on relevant topics for Cooperative Extension Service personnel, Natural Resources Conservation Service staff and other agriculture professionals, farmers, and landowners. The overall program mission/plan will not change however, training topics have been revised based on current needs identified by our program stakeholders. The program advisory committee met on January 13, 2021, and identified priority topics for 2021-2022 training programs. The MSP Assistant position will continue to facilitate program reporting and evaluation and will assist with project accounting and budgeting. A joint budget for Clemson and South Carolina State University has been developed. Funds will be administered through Clemson; South Carolina State University will submit invoices for training expenses to the Clemson Sustainable Agriculture Program.
Project objectives from proposal:
- Continue the existing strategic planning process for statewide sustainable agriculture development. Building on new and existing collaborations with stakeholder groups, the state co-coordinators will work with the MSP Assistant and with the SC SARE Advisory Committee to broaden the pool of stakeholders including under-represented groups who are involved with the planning process and the development of educational programs. As in previous years, an annual sustainable agriculture retreat will be organized in fall/winter to identify priorities and to plan educational programs based on stakeholder needs. We will continue to collaborate on training programs with stakeholder organizations and with SARE PDP personnel from neighboring states when appropriate. The comprehensive and inclusive planning process will limit duplication of effort and will help to leverage available resources.
- Continue to provide professional development opportunities for Extension agents, NRCS, FSA and state Department of Agriculture staff and other sustainable agriculture educators. The outcomes of this objective are that our agriculture professionals will enhance their knowledge and competency in sustainable agriculture, they will increase their contact with the sustainable agriculture community, and they will be recognized as local experts to be called upon for information on sustainable agriculture. Travel scholarships will be provided for select Extension agents and agricultural professionals to attend the 2021 Carolina Farm Stewardship Association (CFSA) Sustainable Agriculture Conference (November) and other sustainable agriculture educational events as funds are available. These events represent valuable educational opportunities for our agents and other agriculture professionals and facilitate interactions between agriculture professionals and farmers.
- Revive the “Outstanding Sustainable Agriculture Extension Agent of the Year” award to recognize SC cooperative extension personnel for excellence in sustainable agriculture outreach. A call for nominations will be released in summer of each year open to 1890 and 1862 personnel. The award recipient will receive a travel scholarship to attend a sustainable agriculture event and a plaque recognizing their service to the sustainable agriculture community. The award will continue to encourage the development of innovative public outreach programs by our Extension agents. Due to COVID-19 no award nominations were solicited for 2020 since travel was prohibited
- The SC SARE PDP Program will continue to organize and foster, and help support in-service training opportunities for Extension agents, NRCS, FSA and state Department of Agriculture personnel, agricultural educators, and for other interested persons as space permits. Workshop topics will be determined annually by the Advisory Committee (see listing of Winter 2021 workshop topics below). The MSP Assistant, in consultation with the coordinators and the SC CFSA representative, will have overall responsibility for workshop organization, publicity and evaluation.