Wednesday, November 12, 2008

SARE Director Accepts New Detail

Farm Bill Brings Changes to SARE Leadership

SARE is experiencing the first ripple effects of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (farm bill) with a new role for Jill Auburn, SARE Director for more than 10 years. Jill is being detailed to a new position in USDA reporting to the Chief Scientist and Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics. She will be chief of the Agricultural Systems and Technology division of the Research, Education and Extension Office. This mouthful was all newly created under the new Act. The move is scheduled for November 17, 2008.

While we'll miss Jill's day-to-day leadership of SARE-the detail could last up to four years-she'll be within hollerin' distance. SARE matters will cross Jill's new desk often, so she'll still be contributing to the effort and better able to link our work with other research, extension and education endeavors at the department.

Employee of the Year

As noted in the previous post, on October 21, 2008, Jill was awarded CSREES' Employee of the Year in Science and Education award-but SARE widely considers her entire tenure worthy of such recognition. Jill brought an openness to new ideas, intellectual rigor, remarkable organizational and management skills and broad experience to SARE. Says one regional coordinator: "She motivates others with positive attitude, clear vision and an ability to solve problems." It's no wonder that at SARE's 20th Anniversary conference in March Jill was given a standing ovation!

The Transition Plan

For the first six months, Western SARE Coordinator Phil Rasmussen will give 25 percent of his time to act as national director. He will receive substantial assistance from Kim Kroll, SARE Associate Director, and Andy Clark, SARE Outreach Coordinator. CSREES will revisit the situation after January 1, 2009 to see what makes most sense going forward as the circumstances of Jill's detail, the new administration, and the transition from CSREES to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (as mandated by the farm bill) develop.

The new SARE team is confident that, with SARE staff's support, the shift in leadership will go smoothly and SARE's work to advance sustainable agriculture will continue unhampered.

Phil Rasmussen

Distributed by SARE Outreach for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program and based upon work supported by the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES), USDA. SARE's nationwide research and education grants program advances farming systems that are profitable, environmentally sound and good for communities. SARE Outreach operates under cooperative agreements with the University of Maryland and the University of Vermont to develop and disseminate information about sustainable agriculture.

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