In a challenging 2020, our program assistant represented the SARE program on a number of webinars and ag outreach provider planning calls, reminding them of SARE resources and offering content related to marketing and economic sustainability in a difficult year. He continues to serve as one of the primary faces of the KYSARE program. He networks extensively across the state and beyond to identify new partners and new ideas for amplifying our financial investment. The core job of KY SARE’s Program Assistant is coordinating all of the SARE-promoted trainings and programs. This includes working with the content providers (faculty, private sector, government, NGO) and SARE leadership to develop effective programs. He provides logistical support (finding meeting space, arranging travel, access to materials) and assisting program evaluation.
The Program Assistant also manages the SARE grant funds, budgets and arranges for payments, reimbursements, and overall grant account management. Because sustainable agriculture programs in Kentucky extend much beyond the SARE-supported programs, the program assistant actively participates in other activities. This includes attending extension and grower events where he simultaneously represents KYSARE and the UK Center for Crop Diversification, allowing him to provide SARE resources anywhere they might be helpful and relevant. His engagement and connections markedly enhance the visibility of the SARE Program. He is actively involved in Kentucky State University’s “Third Thursday Thing”—monthly sustainable ag field days covering a wide range of topics.
Project objectives from proposal:
Note that the funds in Kentucky are split into Kentucky State University funds and University of Kentucky funds. The two programs work together, though each has slightly different but complementary goals. Third Thursday Thing is one of the premier sustainable agriculture training programs in the state. It serves producer leaders, extension and other ag outreach providers in the state by offering up-to-date, timely information on a variety of sustainable agriculture topics. It meets two of the most pressing needs in Kentucky sustainable agriculture: the need for regular, relevant, basic production and marketing information, and a place for agricultural professionals to seek professional development and connect with growers and other clientele.
The University of Kentucky’s program is this year focusing on equity and building the capacity of our agriculture professionals to meet the needs of diverse communities of growers as well as those with varying abilities. We plan to do this through three primary projects. The first seeks to train agents in the best way to support Recovery Gardens—a novel and growing practice seeking to improve quality of life in rural communities and expand awareness of sustainable agriculture practices to new audiences. The second project also seeks to train agents and ag outreach providers on how to better serve the needs of potential AgrAbility clients. The current AgrAbility network though very successful, is centralized and minimally staffed. This effort will help to mobilize the decentralized technical support network in the state to improve agricultural access for those with disabilities or other abilities. The final effort seeks to sustain our support of professional development opportunities for non-University agriculture outreach providers.
2021 Kentucky SARE MSP Revised Objectives:
- Expand offerings related to equity in the field of sustainable agriculture
- Expanding professional capacity of agriculture professionals in supporting producers of all physical ability levels.
- Continue providing financial support for the professional development of non-university ag service professionals in the governmental and non-governmental spheres.
- Continue to offer the basic science-based information on sustainable agriculture production and marketing.
2020 (Previous Year) Kentucky SARE MSP Objectives:
- Provide specific professional development activities for non-university ag outreach providers
- Evaluate more clearly how these activities translate into grower outreach
- Build a broad base of interest and skills in agricultural sustainability among extension agents and other professionals in the state