Murray State College is a project partner with the Chickasaw Nation on a USDA Climate SMART grant that provides start-up funding for the Small Farm and Ranch Institute, which will be located on the Murray State College Ardmore campus. The grant is $5 million, of which $2 million will directly benefit Murray State. 

The program is designed to provide education to underserved students and local farmers about agriculture practices on a small scale. Murray State College will build curriculum to train underserved students about the importance of agriculture, using clean practices to preserve the environment, lessen herbicide and pesticide use; as well as use sustainable practices in specialty crops like native pecans.

“This grant will help us advance sustainable agricultural practice and education in a myriad of ways for our students and communities,” said Brian Cothran, Dean of the Murray State College’s School of Agriculture. “We would not be successful without our partners at the Chickasaw Nation, Kris Patton and Amy Seiger. They have been incredible advocates for sustainable agriculture practices.”

It will also teach local students and farmers, including underserved populations how to begin farming practices on a small scale, with specialty crops like fruits and vegetables that can be monetized via local farmer’s markets. These farmers will also be incentivized to use climate-smart practices, lending to the demand of local WIC and SNAP food producers who would prefer to source their produce locally for disadvantaged families.

“We are grateful for Governor Anoatubby and the opportunity to collaborate on the Climate SMART grant to expand our agriculture program, and serve local farmers and special populations,” said Dr. Tim Faltyn, Murray State College President. “This program will strengthen Murray State’s academic programs and partnership with the Chickasaw Nation.”

Funds for the grant allocation to Murray State College will aid in hiring a project coordinator, full time faculty and purchase needed equipment and supplies, as well as provide student scholarships.