Special Topics Include: Heir's Property, Farm Stress, Value Chain Partnership Strategy, Innovations in Marketing and Equity, Justice and Access
Learn about resources and strategies to meet emergent needs and challenges of socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers:
Examine up-to-date information on USDA programs
Engage in peer-to-peer connections among participants
Learn methods to access public data to assess needs
Develop stakeholder engagement strategy to build partnerships and accomplish shared goals
Who Should Attend?
USDA Field Staff
National/State Forestry associations
Extension professionals in ANR or CRD
2501 recipients working with landowners
Land Trust and Conservatory organizations
Meet the Trainers
David Buys is State Health Specialist and Associate Professor at Mississippi State University where he leads a team of health sciences faculty, staff, and students. Their work focuses on improving mental health, obesity, and other health concerns across the state, with a particular focus on rural communities.
Michael Carlo is a Natural Resource Specialist on the Outcomes Team in the NRCS Resource Inventory & Assessment Division. He is the Leader of the NRCS Historically Underserved Farmers and Ranchers Working Group.
Renee Catacalos has been a food system advocate and writer in the Mid-Atlantic region for the past 15 years, and is author of the book, The Chesapeake Table: Your Guide to Eating Local. As member and strategic partnerships director for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders, she helps amplify the impact of grantmakers and investors in co-creating more equitable food and agriculture systems.
Cynthia Cuellar is a National Outreach Specialist for USDA’s Farm Service Agency. She helps to provide resources and materials to internal and external customers on the awareness and education of FSA Farm Programs.
Sam Cook is a 35+-year career as a forester and natural resource professional. He coordinates the management of the forest assets owned or managed by the NCSU Natural Resources Foundation, Inc. A private forestry consultant and board member for several conservation and forestry organizations.
Lourdes Elena South
Lourdes Elena South is part of the Natural Resource Conservation Service in the Implementation and Stewardship Branch of the Easements Programs Division. She is a sub-team lead for NRCS’ Historically Underserved Working Group. She has a J.D./Legal Masters in Law, and her previous academic and professional endeavors focused on Environmental law and justice.
Katie Hickey is a Master of Public Administration candidate at Cornell University working with the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. She is focusing her studies on agriculture and food policy with an emphasis on food access for underserved populations.
Mary Nelson Robertson
Mary Nelson Robertson is Extension Associate III and Project Manager for Mississippi State University Extension Service’s PReventing Opioid Misuse In the SouthEast: PROMISE Initiative. The PROMISE Initiative focuses on enhancing mental health and preventing opioid misuse among rural communities, especially among agricultural producers and their families.
Kenya Nicholas is a Program Director with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) headquartered in Washington, DC. She manages two grant programs that serve socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers (Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 Program) and the Socially Disadvantaged Policy Research Center) within the Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. She works across all USDA agencies to coordinate outreach to USDA’s stakeholder communities. She has worked within the Department for over 29 years.
Dr. Sarah Rocker is a rural sociologist at the Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development at Penn State University. Her primary research areas include regional food value chain coordination for small and mid-scale producers, strategies for place-based community and economic development and stakeholder engagement.
Partnership Team member for the USDA Rural Development Innovation Center. She has worked with rural communities for over 25 years on community and economic development, local and regional food systems, food sovereignty, and coalition building for food supply chain development. She lives in South Dakota.
Robert Zabawa, PhD, is an anthropologist and research professor at the George Washington Carver Agricultural Experiment Station, Tuskegee University. He is Co-Director of the Integrative Public Policy and Development PhD Program and Coordinator of the Agricultural and Resource Economics MS Program. His research interests include rural community development, issues related to heir(s) property and land tenure, program disparities towards African American institutions, communities and producers, and adoption of orange sweet potato and value-chain production to alleviate vitamin deficiencies and increase small farm income in Ghana, West Africa.