Research and Education
About the Research and Education Grant Program
The North Central Region SARE (NCR-SARE) Research and Education Grant Program is a competitive grant program for researchers and educators involved in projects that explore and promote environmentally sound, profitable, and socially responsible food and/or fiber systems.
Research and Education projects include a strong outreach component and significant farmer/rancher or other end user involvement from inception of the idea through implementation of the project. Generally:
- Research and Education grant awards range from $10,000 to $200,000.
- Projects may last up to 36 months.
- NCR-SARE funds about 8 to 12 Research and Education projects per year.
- Grant-making decisions are made by the NCR-SARE Administrative Council on an annual grant timeline.
- Research and Education grants are built by collaborative teams.
- Producers are key participants in grant activities.
- Project focus on farm and ranch profitability.
- Coordinators are encouraged to explore social, environmental AND economic aspects of whole systems.
- Marketing sustainable agriculture products has been a thrust of NCR-SARE, which also funds projects in many other areas.
- All projects include a strong outreach component.
- A unique aspect of NCR-SARE is our personal contact with graduate students involved in the program.
- In 2007, North Central SARE conducted a retrospective evaluation of its Research and Education (R&E) grants program. The Center for Evaluative Studies in Michigan State University’s Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies (MSU CARRS) conducted the survey research component of the evaluation.
Many projects are interdisciplinary and/or multi-institutional, involving a broad range of agricultural interests. Project coordinators in the past have explored sustainable agriculture under the following topics: biocontrol, crop production, education/extension, networking, livestock production, marketing, quality of life, soil quality, value-added marketing, waste management, water quality, and weed control
NCR-SARE can provide grant applications, reports from other projects, lists of funded projects, or other sustainable agriculture information. To receive more information about the NCR-SARE Research and Education Program preproposal/proposal process and timeline, contact the NCR-SARE office.
We make slight revisions to our calls for proposals each year, which means it is crucial for our readers to only have access to the most recent call for proposals. To ensure that our information is accurate, we remove the old calls as soon as the deadlines have passed in order to avoid confusion.
Funding decisions are made by a regional Administrative Council (AC), with review from a Technical Committee. The AC is a collection of producers, university representatives, nonprofit group interests, Extension and NRCS people, other government employees and agribusiness representatives. This group sets research priorities and recommends projects for funding.
Research and Education Projects Recommended for Funding
Annual Grant-Making Timeline
August - Call for Preproposals
Late October - Preproposals Due
Late February - Preproposal Status
April - Full Proposals Due
Late July - Funding Decisions
Fall - Funds Available to Recipient
In SARE, researchers at universities, in extension offices, on farms and in nonprofit groups have found a place to come together. Many projects are interdisciplinary and/or multi-institutional, involving a broad range of agricultural interests.
Farmers and ranchers help develop and then become the end-users of NCR-SARE research and educational products.
SARE project coordinators realize that sustainable systems must be profitable for farmers and ranchers.
NCR-SARE investigators explore the social side of agriculture, delving into the changes and challenges in rural communities and farm family life.
SARE in the NCR is at the cutting edge of agricultural research, realizing that the future of sustainable farming and ranching lies in successful marketing.
Other Granting Areas
Project coordinators in the past have explored sustainable agriculture under the following topics: biocontrol, crop production, education/extension, networking, livestock production, marketing, quality of life, soil quality, value-added marketing, waste management, water quality, and weed control. Future proposals are not limited to these areas. Each year the NCR-SARE Administrative Council sets priority areas.
Some projects are funded exclusively as education or demonstration tools. All projects include outreach. Twenty years of NCR-sponsored publications, videos, workshops, field days, conferences, newsletters, web sites and other communication vehicles provide an extension of projects beyond the circle of participants. Results are often creatively shared with special audiences.
For instance, Walker Kirby, researcher and extension educator at the University of Illinois, held clinics on biocontrol of nematodes at high schools, introducing area young people — the future of farming — to sustainable agriculture.
The NCR-SARE program encourages potential project coordinators to seek matching funds from other governmental and nongovernmental agencies.
A unique aspect of NCR-SARE is our personal contact with graduate students involved in the program. Beth Nelson is our Graduate Student Program Coordinator. Feel free to contact Beth.
Associate Director, Research and Education Grant Program Coordinator, and Graduate Student Grant Program Coordinator
120 BAE, University of Minnesota
1390 Eckles Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55108
If you would like to be notified of the Call for Proposals, please contact the NCR-SARE office at 612-626-3113 or e-mail NCR-SARE at firstname.lastname@example.org
A Retrospective Evaluation of the Research and Education Program
In 2007, North Central SARE conducted a retrospective evaluation of its Research and Education (R&E) Grant Program. The Center for Evaluative Studies in Michigan State University’s Department of Community, Agriculture, Recreation and Resource Studies (MSU CARRS) conducted the survey research component of the evaluation.
Here are a few highlights from the reports:
- The surveyed projects had high levels of farmer and extension involvement;
- NCR-SARE R&E projects led to cooperation and partnership opportunities in furthering advancement of sustainable agriculture systems and practices;
- Nearly eight out of ten farmer cooperators in NCR-SARE R&E projects found the information gained from the NCR-SARE project useful, and just over half of them used what they had learned on their farm;
- Market recognition of their farm’s products increased for half of farmers who responded to the survey.
The farmer survey result reports describe changes in farming operations such as fertilizer and pesticide use, net income, and many others. While the survey response rate was relatively high, responses to individual questions were variable enough that we caution against making sweeping generalizations. The results are self-explanatory except for two items.
First, there were some discrepancies in the results between farmers involved in R&E project and the project Principle Investigators (PIs). For example, farmers had somewhat different perceptions of the levels of farmer involvement than project PIs – farmers reported less involvement in NCR-SARE R&E than Project PIs reported. This could be a matter of differing definitions or memories. It could merely be that farmers responding to the survey were not involved in the same projects as the Project PIs who responded.
Second, very different results to similar questions warrant further examination. For instance, two-thirds of farmers reported no change in net income and one-third of farmers reported an increase in net income due to their participation in a NCR-SARE R&E funded project. However, 70% of the respondents were reported that their profitability had increased.
Two reasons may explain this discrepancy. MSU survey researchers found that not all respondents answered both questions; some answered one or the other. An agricultural economist queried on this matter said "the eye of the beholder" definition comes into play here. Profitability may be a proxy for economic well-being, particularly in the time period when this survey was conducted – higher land values, higher commodity prices. Net income may be a more precise term than profitability in this case.
If you have any questions about the survey reports, please send an e-mail query to email@example.com.