The University of the Virgin Islands (UVI), an 1862 establishment, is the only Land Grant institution in the United States Virgin Islands (USVI). The on-going Professional Development training initiatives of the Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE) Program are administered and coordinated by the UVI Cooperative Extension Service in collaboration with partners from the public and private sectors throughout the territory. These partners include, but are not limited to, the UVI Agricultural Experiment Station, the Small Business Development Center, the VI Department of Agriculture, FINTRAC, the St. Thomas/St. John Livestock Association, the Good Food Coalition, and We Grow Food, Inc.
The proposed activities for the 2016-2017 Professional development activities will target outreach professionals in agriculture from territorial/state, NGOs and federal partner agencies. These agencies will include, but are not limited to the University of the Virgin Islands Cooperative Extension Service, University of the Virgin Islands Agricultural Experiment Station, the Virgin Islands Department of Agriculture, USDA Natural Resource Conservation Service, and the USDA Farm Service Agency. Mentors from farmers’ organizations and other NGO’s will also comprise the training audience. These entities include the St. Croix Farmers in Action, the St. Thomas/St. John Livestock Association, the Virgin Islands Good Food Coalition, and We Grow Food, Inc.
Project objectives from proposal:
The goal of the educational activities in this Plan of Work is to increase the level of knowledge and awareness among state and federal outreach staff in the Virgin Islands regarding the SARE program and appropriate strategies to address local challenges and concerns. The ‘Train the Trainer’ approach will be primarily employed as a method to increase the capacity and capability of the SARE team members to effectively provide educational and outreach programs to farm mentors of crop and livestock organizations, NGO’s and other outreach staff from territorial/state and federal agencies. The overall goal of the professional development activities is to ensure that agriculture professionals are properly educated regarding the latest research based information on appropriate sustainable agricultural strategies and technology. Subsequently, trained personnel would be able to provide improved technical assistance to our farmers and other stakeholders. We anticipate that when local farmers effectively adopt more sustainable agriculture production practices, the Virgin Islands will benefit from increased food production while stimulating economic growth, enhancing environmental quality, and improving the quality of life for all residents.