Annual Plan of Work Summary
2015 Plan of Work
The three professional development initiatives in the 2015-16 Illinois SARE PDP State Plan of Work are: (1) adapting to and mitigating climate change; (2) scaling up local food systems; and (3) increasing the efficiency of organic production. These initiatives continue our areas of concentration from the last two years. Programs will focus on providing professional development opportunities for a wide range of educators – University of Illinois Extension staff, USDA NRCS and SWCD employees, related agricultural agency employees, nonprofit organizations committed to sustainable agriculture programming, high school and community college agriculture teachers, and SARE Youth Ambassadors.
University of Illinois Extension educators are located in 27 multi-county units, with most units comprised of 3 to 5 counties. Currently there are 15 Extension Educators for Local Food Systems and Small Farms, 19 Extension Educators for Horticulture, 6 Extension Educators in Commercial (large-scale) Agriculture, and 5 Extension Educators for Energy and Environmental Stewardship. These and other Extension Educators in Community and Economic Development, as well as several County Directors, are primary clients for our SARE initiatives. In addition, we recruit participation in professional development programs by staff from nonprofit groups such as the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, Black Oaks Center (serving African-American farmers near Pembroke, IL), the Land Connection, and others, and by NRCS and other USDA personnel.
Richard Weinzierl, Professor of Entomology and Extension Specialist in the Department of Crop Sciences, began serving as the state’s SARE Coordinator in February, 2011. In May of 2011 Mary Hosier began as a half-time Program Assistant/Project Manager for Illinois SARE under Dr. Weinzierl’s supervision. She manages financial transactions, coordinates web-based communications and email lists, communicates with educators and potential grant proposal writers, and assists with Face of SARE activities. We continue to build networks and improve our management of the SARE PDP program by combining the faculty, Extension, and grower connections of the state coordinator with the day-to-day management skills of the program assistant/project manager. The Illinois SARE PDP budget uses 60 percent of the funds available for 2015-16 to pay most of the salary and benefits for the Program Assistant as a 0.5 FTE Visiting Academic Professional. (Funds requested in this Plan of Work proposal cover 0.46 FTE for this position; discretionary funds controlled by the SARE Coordinator cover 0.04 FTE.)
State Advisory Committee
To share the load of planning responsibility, state coordinators are expected to assemble and work with a state sustainable agriculture advisory committee to plan training activities in each state. Often included are members representing sustainable agriculture farmers, commercial farmers, agribusiness, NRCS, non-profits, lenders, and rural community leaders. Some committees include individuals from farmers markets, environmental groups and farm organizations.
The Illinois advisory committee will assist the SARE state coordinator in identifying training needs in the state and help design programs to meet their needs.