UT Business and Online Marketing Project for

image: Pick Your Own Strawberries are popular and one of many agritourism sites targeted by UT’s outreach project “Business Planning and Online Marketing Training for Tennessee Farmers.”
to see Continued

Credit: Image courtesy of UTIA.

COLUMBIA, Tenn. – A project led by Megan Bruch Leffew and Hal Pepper of the Center for Profitable Agriculture at the University of Tennessee received two awards for excellence in risk management education. The project was recently named one of three Southern Risk Management Education Center (SRMEC) 2020 Outstanding Projects and also received the 2021 ERME Outstanding ERME Project Award from the Extension Risk Management Education Center ( ERME) for the South region.

The Business Planning and Online Marketing Education for Tennessee Farmers project provided educational opportunities to help participants manage financial and marketing risks by developing business plans and implementing profitable online marketing strategies. The project targeted Tennessee farmers involved in value-added, direct marketing and agritourism businesses. Funding for the project was provided by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant administered by the Southern Risk Management Education Center.

The SRMEC Advisory Board meets each summer to evaluate the top three projects from the Centre’s recent round of completed projects. The board ranks projects by evaluating four factors: 1) significance of results, 2) audiences reached, 3) actual and potential impacts, and 4) quality and value of project communications.

The selected Excellence Projects provided outstanding educational and promotional materials, innovative use of technology to deliver programs, outstanding assessment results, and cross-disciplinary and regional collaborations. The goal is to promote exemplary scholarship and the extension risk management education program. Center Director Ron Rainey said, “Our Excellence Projects demonstrate the kinds of aligned outreach activities that enable producers to manage risk on their operations. These exceptional projects have transparently developed, delivered and evaluated training for farmers with documented impacts and successes.

The ERME Outstanding Project award was created by the ERME Centers to reward an outstanding project each year from each of the four regions of the country.

Project Director Megan Bruch Leffew, along with representatives from the other award-winning projects, were invited to make short presentations at the Virtual 2021 Southern Agricultural Economics Association annual conference in February and the Virtual 2021 Extension Risk Management Education national conference in late March. The project team and key collaborators included:

  • Megan Bruch Leffew, Project Director, UT Extension, Center for Profitable Agriculture
  • Hal Pepper, Project Co-Director, UT Extension, Center for Profitable Agriculture
  • Team Member Adam Hopkins, formerly Area Farm Management Specialist with UT Extension, Eastern Region, now with UT Extension Sevier County
  • Les Humpal, Team Member, UT Extension, Central Region, Area Farm Management Specialist
  • Team Member Danny Morris, formerly Area Agricultural Management Specialist with UT Extension, Western Region, now with UT Martin Department of Agricultural Economics
  • David Yates, Team Member, UT Extension, Eastern Region, Regional IT Specialist
  • Jade Clark, AgLaunch Initiative
  • Pete Nelson, AgLaunch Initiative
  • Joey Mehlhorn, Department of Agricultural Economics at UT Martin
  • Ross Pruitt, UT Martin Department of Agricultural Economics
  • Rachna Tewari, UT Martin Department of Agricultural Economics


Through its mission of land-grant research, education, and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and delivers Real. The life. Solutions.

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