Professional Development Program



Welcome to the national continuing education program in sustainable agriculture presented by Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE). This program is designed primarily for Cooperative Extension and Natural Resource Conservation Service personnel, and is also open to farmers, ranchers, and other agricultural professionals nationwide. It emphasizes core concepts and a basic understanding of sustainable agriculture, its goals and its relevance to every farming and ranching operation – large or small.
The core of the national continuing education program is a series of three interactive, online courses (listed below). The courses are self-paced, allowing you to take them on your own schedule. Learning outcomes and objectives are aimed at the broad topics and issues related to sustainable agriculture. Students who want to explore topics in greater depth should follow the multimedia and information links throughout each course, and seek other educational opportunities in their state or region. What is sustainable agriculture? What does it mean for farmers, ranchers and communities?  How does it relate to my role as an educator or researcher?  This course series is aimed at helping you answer those questions and develop effective research and education programs that address agricultural sustainability for farmers, ranchers and communities.
To begin a course, click the course title. You can work through the course using the "next" and "previous" buttons at the top and bottom of each page, or go to specific sections using the navigation menu on the left side of the content area.


Course 1 Course 1: Sustainable Agriculture Principles and Concept Overview
This course explores the conceptual and historical foundations of sustainable agriculture with particular emphasis on its application to the agricultural professional's role in developing science-based information and working with farmers and ranchers on the best approaches to improving their businesses and strengthening rural and urban communities.
Course 2 Course 2: Strategic Farm/Ranch Planning and Marketing 
This course covers planning and business development, marketing opportunities and strategies for farm/ranch businesses, and managing the farm/ranch business for long-term success. The focus is primarily on farmers in the start-up or transition phases who are interested in exploring new business ideas, management practices and marketing strategies. However, on-going business management, estate planning and farm transfer for clients who have mature businesses or are ready to retire are also discussed.
Course 3 Course 3: Agricultural Ecosystem Management
Course 3 focuses on how to apply ecological principles in the management of crop and livestock systems. Major topics include: agroecosystem concepts and principles, key practices in sustainable agriculture, monitoring agroecosystems, and organic agriculture. The course provides a variety of tools and resources to help you better understand how farm and ranch systems can be managed to achieve production goals, enhance stewardship of watersheds and wildlife, and improve farm profitability.
Core Curriculum Team:
Kim Kroll, Associate Director, National SARE Program, Beltsville, MD
David Chaney, DEC Education Services, Corvallis, OR
Deborah Cavanaugh-Grant, University of Illinois
Vern Grubinger, University of Vermont
Andy McGuire, Washington State University
Julie Sexton, Mississippi State University
Deborah Young, Colorado State University
Course Editor and Instructional Design:
David Chaney, DEC Education Services, Corvallis, OR
Web Design and Programming:
Brian McCann, Ph.D., CEO, Center for Educational and Training Technology, Atlanta, GA
For questions about this course series and the SARE program contact:
Kim Kroll, Associate Director National SARE Program
1122 Patapsco Building, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-6715, (301) 405-9912,