2018 Mini Courses

2018 Pre-conference Mini Courses

Thursday, January 18, 2018
1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

These half day courses give participants an opportunity to spend an afternoon learning from experts. You’ll go home with practical information that you can put to use right away. You must register to participate in the mini-courses. Pre-registration is strongly recommended, a space is limited. Please note that mini-courses are offered at the same time as the field trips.

  1. Five Rules to Maintain Soil Health
  2. Drones: They’re for Farming Too
  3. Heritage Poultry: Pickin’ the Right Chicken
  4. Improving Your Strategic and Program Planning for Measurable Results 

Mini Course #1

Five Rules to Maintain Soil Health

Instructor: Ellen Polishuk, Farm Consultant (MD)


Understand what you can and cannot change about your soil from a farmer who has over 25 years of experience in the field. This course will look at the nature of soil from the biological, chemical and physical viewpoints. As we explore what soil is, we will address how different management practices impact how well a soil functions to grow your crops. The five rules to maintain soil health will give you the framework to assess and amend your farming tools, techniques and timing. Topics covered include covering cropping, green manures, mineral amendments, organic matter management, and tillage.

Mini Course #2

Drones: They’re for Farming Too

Instructors: Jim Robbins, University of Arkansas (AR), Mengmeng Gu, Texas A&M (TX), Rusty Rumley, The National Ag Law Center (AR) and Joe Mari Maja, Clemson University (SC)


This workshop will introduce you to the emerging technology of small-unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS). Understand the financial and legal risks for commercial application of drones, the flight regulations, as well as the different platforms, sensors, and data processing software to fit your operation. See actual computer simulations and demonstrations of drone applications on farms and identify other potential agricultural benefits, liability issues and pitfalls. Come learn how to make improved decisions to match the best sUAS with your farm’s needs.

This workshop is made possible by a grant from the Southern Extension Risk Management Education Center (SRMEC).

Mini Course #3

Heritage Poultry: Pickin’ the Right Chicken

Instructors: Jeannette Beranger, The Livestock Conservancy (NC), Meagan Roberts, Western Piedmont Community College (NC) and Jeff Mattocks, Fertrell Nutrition (PA)


How do you know the bird you have chosen is right for your pastured poultry operation? This course will help you decide which breed is the most appropriate for your expectations on your farm. Learn the health and productivity potential of the diverse heritage breeds to determine if these birds have the right stuff. Topics covered include, housing and infrastructure (mobile and stationary), nutritional needs and diets (layers and broilers), potential markets, farmer poultry cooperative efforts, and options for processing your birds personally and professionally.

Mini Course #4

Improving Your Strategic and Program Planning for Measurable Results

Instructor: Tamara Jones, Evident Impact (GA)

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Increasingly funders expect organizations and programs to meet certain standards including having strategic plans and measurable outcomes. By sharpening your skills in this area, you can make your organization more attractive to donors as well as strengthen your performance and the effectiveness of your work. This course will give organizational leaders a tool and training that will help you focus your thinking and describe what you are trying to achieve. While not serving as a substitute for your strategic planning process, this will get you ready to lead your team in creating a high quality strategic plan that can be used to drive performance, achieve results, and strengthen accountability. By using a planning template, each course participant will create a draft strategic plan that includes long term goals that are SMART along with high quality strategies for achieving those goals. The course is designed for organizational leaders who have enough knowledge about their programs to be able to answer the questions that will be necessary to put in the planning document. Participants are encouraged to bring laptops, but it is not required.