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UT Farmer’s Internet Business and Marketing Project is among the best in the country

Credit: Photo courtesy UTIA.

Colombia, fig. A project led by Megan Broch Levio and Hale Pepper led by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Profitable Agriculture won two awards for excellence in risk management education. The project was recently named one of three Southern Risk Management Education Center (SRMEC) franchise projects for 2020, and also won the 2021 Extended Risk Management Education Center (ERME) award for the Southern District ERME Excellence Project.

The Business Planning and Online Marketing Education Project provided Tennessee farmers with educational opportunities to help participants manage financial and marketing risks by developing business plans and implementing cost-effective internet marketing strategies. The project targeted Tennessee farmers participating in value-added projects, direct marketing, and agrotourism. Funding for the project was provided through a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant that is administered through the Southern Risk Management Education Center.

The SRMEC Advisory Board meets every summer to evaluate the first three projects of the last round of completed projects for the center. The board ranks projects by evaluating four factors: 1) the significance of the results, 2) the audience reached, 3) the achieved and potential impacts, and 4) the quality and value of the project’s communications.

Selected Excellence projects provided outstanding educational and promotional materials, innovative use of technology to deliver programming, exceptional evaluation results, and collaborations across disciplines and regions. The aim is to promote the Model Scholarships and Indicative Risk Management Education Program. “Our distinct projects illustrate the types of harmonized awareness activities that enable producers to manage risks on their farms. These landmark projects have been developed, delivered and evaluated trainings for farmers transparently with documented impacts and success stories,” said Center Director Ron Rainey.

The ERME Project Excellence Award is established by the ERME Centers to honor an outstanding project from each of the four regions across the country each year.

Megan Broch Levio, the project manager, along with representatives from other award-winning projects, were invited to give brief presentations at the Society for Virtual Southern Agricultural Economics Association annual conference 2021 in February and the National Conference on Teaching Virtual Extension Risk Management 2021 in late March. The project team and key collaborators included:

  • Megan Broch-Levio, Project Director, UT Extension, Profitable Farming Center
  • Hal Pepper, Project Co-Director, UT Extension, Profitable Farming Center
  • Adam Hopkins, team member, formerly district farm management specialist with UT Extension, Eastern District, now with UT Extension Sevier County
  • Les Humpal, UT Extension Team Member, Central District, District Farm Management Specialist
  • Danny Morris, a member of the team, is a former farm management specialist in UT Extension, Western Region, and currently works with UT Martin’s Agricultural Economics Department
  • David Yates, UT Extension Team Member, Eastern District, District IT Specialist
  • Jade Clark, AgLaunch Initiative
  • Pete Nelson, AgLaunch Initiative
  • Joy Mihlhorn, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Utah Martin
  • Ross Pruitt, Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Utah Martin
  • Rachna Tiwari, Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Utah Martin

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