Now Available: One-of-a-Kind, Career-Shaping Fellowship in Sustainable Agriculture
In 2007, Penn State Extension Educator Walter Bumgarner was among the first to participate in a new professional development opportunity that brings together Extension educators from diverse backgrounds to learn about sustainable agriculture. It turns out that the SARE/NACAA Sustainable Agriculture Fellows program has been one of the best experiences of Bumgarner's career.
"I want to tell my fellow NACAA members that their participation in the SARE Fellows program could possibly be the highlight of their career in Extension," Bumgarner says. "It has been for me and it could be for you."
New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Educator Joran Viers, a 2009 Fellow, concurs, "This program has been one of the best professional development opportunities I've had, by far."
Interested? Now is the time to take advantage: The National Association of County Agricultural Agents (NACAA) is accepting applications for the 2013 Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) Fellows program. The program is open to NACAA members in good standing with their state associations and with responsibility in agricultural production systems.
The Fellows program gives participants hands-on experience with sustainable agriculture and alternative farming systems, while offering meaningful networking opportunities and memorable exposure to the great diversity of U.S. agriculture.
The program accepts four Extension educators each year to participate in seminars and tours of farms and ranches over the course of two years. Selected from each of SARE's four geographic regions, Fellows are given the opportunity to visit farms and ranches in each of these regions.
In a three-day tour last year, eight Fellows visited 14 Colorado operations, including cattle and bison ranches, a dairy, a mushroom farm and an aquaponics farm. Participants weighed the roles minimum tillage, drip irrigation, organic soil-building, pest control, energy efficiency, balance trait selection and GPS can play in sustainable production systems.
During year one of the program, participants attend events with Fellows from the previous year, and mentor the new group of Fellows during year two, making the Fellowship an excellent opportunity to build lasting professional and personal relationships with peers from across the country.
"Since participating in this program, I have personally worked with some of the other Fellowship awardees on grant projects, articles and other educational programs," says Stephen Komar, a Rutgers New Jersey Cooperative Extension educator and 2009 Fellow.
How to Apply
Applications are due March 15. The Fellows program is open to NACAA members in good standing with their state associations and with responsibility in agricultural production systems. Find complete eligibility and entry details online.