Seed Grants

The Smith Center offers seed grants to teams from across UTIA for global engagement. The goal is for these seed grants to result in ongoing collaborative partnerships across teaching, research, and extension, which lead to external funding and further international opportunities for UTIA. Seed grants are capped at $8,000 per team and are competitively evaluated and selected. The call for Global Seed Grant proposals takes place annually during the spring semester. Once awarded, the grants are implemented over an18 month period, typically beginning in May of each year.

For the 2022 program, the deadline for applications is Friday, April 22 at 5pm EDT. Applications will be reviewed in late April and early May, and funded seed grants will begin May 16, 2022 for a period of 18 months (until November 15, 2023).

For more details, please contact

Examples of previously-awarded Seed Grants

Establishment of international partnership between the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and Zamorano University in Honduras for the promotion and advancement of academic and research opportunities for sustainable solutions to global food security challenges

Myer, P., Morgan, M., Ader, D.

The impetus behind the global food security challenge is direct, with the necessity to feed over 9 billion people by 2050, where the demand for nutritional and sustainable food will be approximately 60% greater than today. Developing a food-secure world, where people have access to safe, nutritious, affordable food, developed by sustainable and environmentally conscious agriculture is the principal goal of this challenge. In order to generate sustainable solutions to these challenges, collaborative international and interdisciplinary teams must be developed. This project established an international partnership between the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture and Zamorano University in Honduras for the promotion and advancement of academic and research opportunities for sustainable solutions to global food security challenges. As a result of this seed grant, UTIA has trained 12 Zamorano student interns for a semester with faculty from four different Herbert College departments. This has also led to two of these Zamorano interns coming to Herbert College to complete MS degree programs.

An International Research and Extension Experience with Cooperatives in Developing Countries: The Case of Certified Coffee Cooperatives in Mexico

Trejo-Pech, C., Velandia, M. and Stripling, C.

This project addressed sustainable certified coffee production through cooperatives. The overall goal of the project was to support the development of sustainable Fair Trade and organic certified coffee production through cooperatives in the state of Veracruz, Mexico. Mexico is a leading producing region of certified coffee in the world and the state of Veracruz produces 27% of total coffee production in Mexico. Recent research finds that cooperative coffee farmers in Veracruz confront market situations that may reduce their level of engagement with cooperatives and threaten the sustainability of the complete supply chain. We established a collaboration with two leading agricultural institutions located in the state of Veracruz (Colegio de Posgraduados de Ciencias Agrícolas (ColPos), campus Córdoba, Veracruz, and Universidad Autónoma Chapingo (UACH) Huatusco, Veracruz regional center), to further investigate those factors influencing the grower-cooperative relationship, and producers’ engagement with cooperatives. The team visited the coffee producing region in Mexico in January 2019. We collected primary data through personal interviews and listening sessions. Hearing directly from coffee growers, cooperative administrators, processors or commercialization intermediaries helped the team expand research efforts in the area of coffee cooperatives in Mexico. We also met with ColPos and UACH faculty with partial Extension appointments to compare and contrast, in a mini-symposium format, diverse issues related to extension efforts in the U.S. and Mexico. In addition, the external collaborators (Dr. Arana-Coronado, Dr. Servin-Juarez, and Dr. Rodriguez-Padron) visited UTIA in Fall 2019. Their visit allowed us to discuss preliminary analyses of data collected in Mexico, to refine research questions, and to plan for additional data collection efforts. Dr. Servin-Juarez was able to stay at UT for a self-funded sabbatical. During the visit to UTIA, faculty from Mexico participated in the UTIA seminar presenting “Extension in Mexico: Serving Coffee Producers. History, Current Activities and Challenges, and Future Opportunities”. This seed grant resulted in further funding from the US State Department to develop a UT study abroad course to Mexico, offered for the first time in January 2022.

Master Teacher Workshop for Faculty Members of East African Colleges of Veterinary Medicine

Souza, M., Lane, I. and Bailey, M.

We conducted a 4-day workshop focused on improving teaching skills for faculty members of East African colleges of veterinary medicine. The workshop was held in summer 2019 at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Twelve faculty members completed the workshop, including faculty Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. This workshop was based on the content from the UT College of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM) Master Teacher Program (MTP). Established in 2008, the MTP provides resources, programs, and leadership that support the highest quality of professionalism and instruction within the various educational missions of the UTCVM. The goal of the MTP is ongoing professional development toward mastery of teaching skills. A variety of MTP topics were covered with faculty members from East Africa. The workshop also included opportunities to develop and refine teaching and testing materials. The faculty members presented material at their home institutions in the hope of furthering the improvement of delivery of veterinary medical education across numerous East African countries. This seed grant resulted in further funding from the US Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service to bring eight East African veterinary educators to UT for pedagogical fellowships. These fellows will be hosted by UTIA in Fall 2022 semester.