Advisory & Leadership
The Administrative Council, which is often called the AC, is the governing body for the Southern SARE region. The AC appoints the host institution and coordinator, oversees the general budget and guides programming. A large part of this responsbility revolves around establishing all Calls for Proposals, and overseeing the review of proposals and evaluation of projects. The entire process is detailed in the SSARE document, How It Works.
The term of membership on the AC is normally three years, with the opportunity to serve two terms. Memberships are staggered to assure continuity. Producers and NGO representatives are allowed $250 per day plus expenses when attending AC meetings or participating in the program at a PDP workshop or other SARE meetings. Back to top
The Southern SARE AC is composed of 22 members: 12 selected by the AC through an open nomination process serving 3-year terms(renewable for a second term), and 10 members are appointed by our partner agencies. These agencies include 1890 Extension Institutions, 1890 Research Institutions, 1862 Extension Institutions, 1862 Research Institutions, State Departments of Agriculture, USDA-Agricultural Research Service, USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Geological Survey, and a representative from the SARE National office. Of the 12 members selected from open nominations, seven are producers, three represent non-governmental organizations, one represents agribusiness, and one reflects quality of life issues for the AC.
The Southern SARE AC is recruited to reflect the diversity of the Southern agricultural community. Our AC is notable for its wide range of interests, ideas, and for a collaborative working style. The Southern SARE AC is known for its willingness to be innovative and explore new ways to promote sustainable agriculture.
One of the most vital roles played by each AC member is that of liaison to groups they represent. Each AC member not only represents SARE to their group, but more importantly, brings to S-SARE the information, goals, and ideas from our partners. AC members should be alert to the needs of our constituent groups; what research is needed, what training programs would be most useful.
The role of the AC includes guiding the vision of the program, setting goals, providing feedback from groups and being ambassadors from the program to the region. Each AC member should also be active in SARE-related and sustainable agriculture-related activities in their state. Back to top
AC members are expected to read, comment on, and score a portion of the grant applications each year, and to also attend two yearly meetings—in February and August— to make grant award decisions and conduct other business.
Grant review for the two big grant programs begins in June with pre-proposals—overviews of project concepts and outcomes—that are submitted by potential applicants. The Administrative Council assumes responsibility for screening these pre-proposals. The top submissions will be invited to submit full proposals after the August AC meeting.
Full proposals for these big grants are due in November and are evaluated by both AC members and Technical Review Committee members. Based on the reviewers’ rankings and remarks, the AC Project Review Committee will recommend a slate of proposals for funding at the February AC meeting.
The smaller grant programs—for farmers, professionals who work with them, graduate students and community activists, as well as planning and preliminary R&E grant proposals—do not have pre-proposals. They are reviewed at staggered times during the year. Reviewers read and score proposals, then meet by conference call to discuss them. These applications are brief and uncomplicated. Back to top
The AC is also responsible for setting program policy, suggesting program improvements, reviewing the allocation of funds, and guiding overall program direction. Each member is expected to serve on at least two standing committees, and they may be asked to join a working or ad-hoc subcommittee as program needs dictate. The work of all committees is supported by regional staff, although at times individual members have volunteered to do a great deal of work on projects that interest them.
AC members are also assigned grant projects to oversee. Tracking a project usually means reviewing annual and final reports as they are sent in and referring problems that arise to the regional director. Some AC members have even visited projects that particularly interested them, but that is not required. Back to top
The Technical Review Committee, known as the TRC, is a network of researchers, farmers, extension, consultants, NRCS personnel, nonprofit representatives, and a wide variety of other agricultural professionals. As the name implies, members are recruited for their specific expertise, and the membership of the group tends to be large and fluid. TRC members are not required to come to the two yearly AC meetings. Instead, they offer skill and support chiefly by reviewing and scoring grant proposals. Because of the very large volume of proposals the SARE program receives, the TRC acts as an important knowledge pool that the SARE program can draw on.
Technical Review Committee members don’t have a scheduled term of service, and it is not unusual for a member of the committee to act first as a reviewer and then fill a vacancy on the Administrative Council. Back to top
Each Land Grant institution in the region names a representative to serve as the state sustainable ag coordinator. The role of the state coordinators is critical, since they are responsible for the integration of the concepts of sustainable agriculture into daily outreach and extension practices. Southern SARE offers an annual appropriation to each land grant for developing sustainable agriculture curricula for their extension staff. Southern SARE State Coordinators oversee the professional development plan within their state and the SARE money that attaches to it.
State Coordinators normally attend a regional meeting in conjunction with the August AC meeting and educational tour. This tour is normally planned by the state coordinator or AC member where the meeting is held. The goal of the tour is to highlight successful farm practices, educate both the AC and the State Coordinators, and open up new avenues of discussion. Back to top
Since 1994, the Southern SARE Administrative Council has conducted its business through a structure of committees. All AC agenda items originate with one of the seven current standing committees.
- This committee facilitates the communication of SARE projects and outreach success stories to promote sustainable agriculture and SARE in the Southern region. It is also a link to other regions and the national office to inform the dialogue about sustainable issues. Membership is on volunteer basis.
- The role of the Operations/Nominations Committee is to develop and recommend budgets and policies for the AC. The committee recommends a list of candidates to serve as officers of the AC. The committee also solicits and recommends new members of the AC as vacancies occur. Membership on this committee is on a volunteer basis.
- Project Review (reviews R&E/Grad/SCI proposals)
- The Project Review Committee’s task is to establish goals and criteria for the evaluation of proposals and the funding of projects. The PRC is constituted to reflect the composition of the AC.
- Limited-Resource Farmer/Minority Outreach
- The purpose of the Limited-Resource Farmers and Minority Outreach Committee (LRF/MO) is to establish goals and programs to support limited-resource and minority farmers. Membership is on a volunteer basis. In pursuing its goals, the LRF/MO committee has conducted workshops addressing the needs of limited resource farmers in the South and supported workshops and conferences organized by other groups through scholarships for minority farmers.The LRF/MO committee has also discussed ways to increase participation by limited-resource farmers in the SARE Producer Grant program and in national conferences. The committee also recommends to the AC ways to increase the participation of 1890 land grant institutions in the Southern SARE program.
- Producer Grant (reviews Producer and On-farm proposals)
- The Producer Grant Committee’s (PGC) task is to establish goals and criteria for the evaluation of proposals and the review of producer grants. In addition, the PGC is also responsible for the On-Farm Grants program. Membership on the PGC includes the seven farmer members of the AC.
- Professional Development Program (reviews PDP proposals)
- The work of the Professional Development Program (PDP Committee is to establish goals and criteria for the evaluation of proposals, the review of PDP projects, and to make recommendations to the AC regarding grant funding. In addition, the PDP Committee is responsible for conducting the yearly PDP workshop and all other PDP activities. Membership on this committee includes two AC members, the Extension director, and Extension administrator on the AC.
- Evaluation Committee
- With the growing emphasis on evaluation methodologies for the SARE program, the Evaluation Committee was established to review the evaluation process.
All AC members are members of at least two of the above committees: everyone is on one of the three review committees as well as one of the others. Each committee elects its own chair and vice-chair. In addition, the AC has authorized an Executive Committee, which is made up of the AC Chair and Vice Chair as well as the chairs of each committee. The Executive Committee meets monthly by telephone conference to discuss on-going SSARE business. If AC decisions are required between the two meeting dates, the Executive Committee is authorized to make those decisions. The Executive Committee is primarily the place where new issues facing the AC are first discussed prior to the full AC meetings.
At each semi-annual AC meeting, the committees meet the day before (or half-day before) the full AC. It is the responsibility of each Committee chair, in coordination with the SSARE Director, to establish an agenda for the committee meetings. For each agenda item to be discussed, the chair (or vice chair) is required to submit to the SSARE Director an “agenda brief” to be sent to the committee members before the AC meeting. The agenda brief provides information on the issue to be discussed, who will present the issue, a summary of the issue and the desired action to be taken by the full AC. This includes either an information only item to bring to the AC or a request for a motion and vote to be taken by the AC.
The chair of each committee will conduct the meeting and report to the AC the above information. Following the AC vote (if applicable), the committee chair will, in coordination with the SSARE Director’s office, follow through with the task assigned.
For this structure to be effective, all chairs and members must participate fully in the affairs of the committee. An efficient committee structure improves the work of the whole Administrative Council and furthers the goal of the SSARE program to make agriculture in the South more sustainable.
In addition to the seven standing committees, the Administrative Council also has an Executive Committee made up of the vice-chair of the overall Administrative Council and the chairs of each of the seven standing committees. The role of the Executive Committee is to handle matters that arise between regularly scheduled Administrative Council meetings.