Annual Plan of Work Summary
2015 Plan of Work Summary
In 2014, more and more farmers became interested in the sustainable agricultural practice of using cover crops to improve soil health and the long-term productivity of their soil. The University of Nebraska-Lincoln and SARE provided opportunities for Extension Ag. Educators, NRCS staff, and farmer educators to learn about the use of cover crops by providing support to attend conferences, field days, and tours. UNL Extension has developed a team of Extension Educators and Extension Specialists that are focusing on research and education of the use of cover crops and soil health. The support of SARE in the area of cover crop education has also been instrumental in a team receiving an Extension Innovative Grant for $10,000 and a Conservation Innovative Grant for $75,000 from the Nebraska NRCS Program. These grants will help further the importance for soil conservation and soil health. This is an integral component of the SARE Regional Initiative on Carbon, Energy and Climate. This regional initiative remains very important, as there are a number of concerns in regard to drought and water, along with cover crops, organic matter in the soil, and energy, which is always an important issue in Nebraska. The NCR-SARE Professional Development Grant “Ensuring Sustainable Agriculture in the Face of a Changing Climate" has also provided resources and opportunities for climate change education to ag. educators throughout Nebraska. At Crop Production Clinics throughout Nebraska, Climate Information was presented on how it can be used for Agricultural Decisions in Nebraska. Extension at UNL also has initiated a team of Educators and Specialists that are focused on climate change issues. The NCR-SARE Regional Initiative focused on “Scaling Up Local Food Production” continues to be a priority for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln as it continues its leadership in the development of local food systems in Nebraska, working with other organizations such as Buy Fresh Buy Local, the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society, and the Center for Rural Affairs.
During 2014, programs and projects were funded through the SARE Professional Development Fund. There were travel scholarships awarded to Extension Ag. Educators and Farmer Educators to attend conferences focusing on sustainable agriculture, particularly in areas of cover crops and small scale food production. Tours were conducted to observe and study the use of cover crops, local food systems, diversified ag. enterprises and organic farming in Nebraska. SARE supported Extension Educators and farmer educators to attend the No-Till on the Plains Conference in Salina, KS and provided support for Cover Crop/Soil Health Field Days this past summer to learn about cover crops and supported a study tour for Ag. Extension Educators to northeast Nebraska to tour and learn more about sustainable agriculture and sustainable communities in this part of Nebraska. We also provided SARE Travel Scholarships to Extension Educators to attend the National Association of County Agricultural Agents Annual Meeting/ Professional Improvement Conference in 2014. Mini-grants were awarded to assist in sustainable ag. conferences across Nebraska. The support for the three regional conferences that focus on sustainable agriculture was critical, as these are the primary opportunities for educational dissemination of sustainable agricultural information and networking between stakeholders in Nebraska. UNL Extension Educators continued education and training in diversity in sustainable ag, an initiative in 2014. The Nebraska SARE Website and Sustainable Agriculture Webinars continue to be successful in increasing the awareness of SARE and the opportunity for professional development and grant opportunities in sustainable agriculture in Nebraska, across the United States and around the world.
Gary Lesoing will be completing his seventh year as Nebraska SARE Coordinator on December 31, 2014. While I am still learning about the potential of the SARE Program in Nebraska, I am also very exciting with the increased interest in sustainable agriculture and more ag. educators, especially voc-ag. instructors, increasing their knowledge of sustainable agriculture through several Nebraska SARE Professional Development opportunities. In 2014, the Nebraska SARE Program has provided SARE Publications, mini-grants for curriculum development and travel scholarships for professional development to voc-ag. instructors. Extension Educators, NRD staff and farmer educators received SARE Travel Scholarships for professional development in Sustainable Agriculture. The Nebraska SARE Advisory Committee is a very active and diverse group that provides valuable input into the development of the Plan of Work. There are members of the committee that are members of public and private organizations and farmers. We now have 5 people on the committee from UNL, 4 Extension Educators and 1 from the Department of Agronomy.
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 advisory committee will assist the Nebraska SARE state coordinator in identifying training needs in the state and help design programs to meet their needs.