History of SSARE
There are four SARE regions—Southern, Northeast, North Central and Western—and a national SARE office in Washington, D.C. The Southern SARE region is made up of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. To learn more about Southern SARE's involvement at the local level, visit SARE in Your State.
Southern Region SARE is administered by a host consortium consisting of the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University with staff located at the University of Georgia-Griffin Campus, Fort Valley State University, and the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Oklahoma.
SSARE Vision and Mission
SSARE's vision is an enduring American agriculture of the highest quality. This agriculture is profitable, protects the nation's land and water and is a force for a rewarding way of life for farmers and ranchers whose quality products and operations sustain their communities and society.
SSARE's mission is to advance—to the whole of American agriculture—innovations that improve profitability, stewardship and quality of life by investing in groundbreaking research and education.
History of SSARE
University of Georgia initially served as the program’s host institution beginning in 1988. Chuck Laughlin served as the program director for two years, after which time the program moved to Louisiana State University. William Brown served as the program director.
In 1993, the SSARE program was transferred back to University of Georgia, where it currently remains.
Paula Ford served as the program director at UGA from 1993 to 1996. Rick Welsh took over as program director from 1997 to 1998. In 1999, Jeff Jordan became program director, where he currently remains in the position.
The primary tools of the Southern SARE program are grants. The original grants are the Research & Education Grants – SARE’s flagship grants program to drive sustainability across the region.
In 1991, USDA and EPA established ACE – Agriculture in Concert with the Environment – grants with the intent on funding projects related to environmental benefits or reduction in environmental damage through the use of sustainable ag practices. The first ACE grant was awarded in 1992 and the program lasted until 1996.
In 1994, Southern SARE created the Professional Development Program to help drive sustainable ag education and outreach through the Cooperative Extension System. The initial host institution for the Professional Development Program and the management of its grants was North Carolina State University. Rick Crickenberger served as the program manager. In 2003, the program moved to the Kerr Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Oklahoma, where it remains. Jim Horne initially served as the program manager. David Redhage currently holds the position.
In 1994, the Southern SARE program also added Producer Grants to recognize farmer contributions to sustainable ag research. The first Producer Grant funded in the region was a project out of Texas that explored controlling pests with beneficial insects in pecan orchards.
In 2000, Southern SARE launched its Graduate Student Grants program. The first project funded was from University of Florida on the feeding behavior of pests in response to damaged and diseased peanut plants.
On-Farm Research Grants and Sustainable Community Innovation Grants soon followed in 2002.
A systems approach to sustainable ag research, specifically as outlined in Research & Education Grants, had been a commitment for the Southern SARE program since 1997. By 2010, Southern SARE was strengthening is focus on systems thinking with a new grant program. Large Systems Grants were offered in response to the need for long-term multidisciplinary studies. The first grant offered was an extension of long-term agroecosystems research in the Texas High Plains, which SARE had been supporting for well over a decade.
The Future of SSARE
The Southern SARE program continues to guide farmers/ranchers, researchers, nonprofits, communities, and Extension educators in sustainable ag efforts. Recently, a new program was added for youth. The Young Scholar Enhancement Grant program introduces high school youth and undergraduate college students to sustainable agriculture through collaborations with researchers on sustainable ag projects.
The Southern SARE program has come a long way in 25 years. In 1988, Southern SARE shared a very small portion of the $3.9 million that Congress appropriated for the entire SARE program. Twelve grants were awarded in that inaugural year. Today, Southern SARE is allocated more than $5 million to administer its grants programs from the $20 million Congressional appropriations for the entire SARE program. In its 25-year history, the regional program has awarded 1,025 grants totaling over $56 million.