In February, I had the privilege to attend the national JCEP Conference in San Antonio. JCEP stands for Joint Council of Extension Professionals and representatives from all program areas as well as Epsilon Sigma Phi were present. The first half of the conference was a staff development on NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture), USDA and NIFA grant proposals, particularly AFRI grants.
It was quite interesting as I was going into this quite uninformed. Federal presenters were featured speakers and the audience was quite tense. Federal money for Extension has been flat for years and money that would have gone to Extension increases is now distributed through competitive integrated projects. These integrated projects must include an Extension partner, but none are solely for Extension. What has been happening is that research projects are going for the money and then discover that Extension must be included, so Extension feels like an afterthought. One of the purposes of this conference was to educate Extension faculty so that we can "drive NIFA from the ground up rather than the other way around."
The 2010 Challenge Area RFAs are:
1. Childhood Obesity Prevention
2. Climate Change
3. Global Food Security
4. Food Safety
5. Sustainable bioenergy
Many of these grant proposals take a year or two to write before submission and approximately 18% of applications were funded in 2010.
Check out www.nifa.usda.gov for more information on grant proposals.
I will close for now and will submit another entry about the NEAFCS action that took place at JCEP.