The North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (NCR-SARE) program recently announced several grants and awards.
Michael Gold, associate director of the University of Missouri Center for Agroforestry, along with colleagues Hank Stelzer, chair of the forestry department, and Anna Ball, agricultural education and leadership department professor and chair, received one of six Professional Development Program awards.
Gold, Stelzer and Ball were awarded $70,334 for their project, “Missouri Agroforestry Summer Institutes: High School Educator Training for Curriculum Delivery.” The project is focused on adding agroforestry to the Missouri high school Agriculture Science II class, which is part of the Missouri FFA curriculum. MU will train these teachers as part of the project.
The trio also received the 2016 Paula Ford Professional Development Program Proposal of the Year. The award goes to the proposal that demonstrates the same passion Ford had for sustainable agriculture. Ford served as the NCR-SARE Professional Development Program Coordinator at Kansas State University for 11 years. She supported SARE for more than 20 years and this award was created to honor her.
“The MU Center for Agroforestry has a major focus on outreach,” Gold said. “For about 15 years, we’ve tossed around the idea of reaching out to high school students. We feel that there will be long-term value of showing them what agroforestry is all about. We want them to know that viable farming alternatives exist out there.
“The fact that they said this was the best proposal is just icing on the cake.”
Hannah Hemmelgarn, a SNR graduate research assistant in agroforestry, played a key role in developing the program as well. As part of her master’s project, Hemmelgarn hosted a one-day institute with 15 high school teachers across the state. Hemmelgarn took the statewide curriculum and added to it. She created a weeklong module in agroforestry. The summer institute was used to train the teachers in the new agroforestry module.
“Hannah did a great job reaching out to those teachers,” Gold said. “We wanted to go beyond that, though. We wanted to push it forward. There is an unmet need.
“The people evaluating the proposals agreed. They thought it was something worth doing.”
Gold’s team submitted the proposal in April.
Through this grant award, the Center of Agroforestry will now be able to hold two institutes each summer for the next three years. Each institute will train 15 teachers – with a total of 90 teachers trained over three years.
“We want to broaden our scope, our depth and our breadth,” Gold said. “We’re filling in all of the gaps. This is huge.
“For a lot of young people, sometimes you’re exposed to something that changes your life path. Hopefully, somewhere down the road, this will open a high school student’s eyes.”