Applicant Details & Scoring

ARC State Program Manager Comments

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Appalachian RC&D Council

Total Qualifying Score: 9
County (ARC Region): Yes
State (ARC Region): Yes
Q3. IRS Status: Nonprofit – 2
Q4. Parent Entity: No – 1
Q5. 2 or More Full-Time Employees : Yes (as of 12/31/2019)
Q7. Budget Level: $250,001 to $1.5 million – 5 (Last Fiscal Year Actual Income)
Q8. Restricted Reserves: Yes – 0
Q9. CARES Act Funding: No – 1
Q13. Participation by Executive: Yes


Appalachian RC&D Council
Johnson City, Washington County, Tennessee 37604

County (ARC Region) Washington
State (ARC Region) Tennessee


Q1. Mission:

To conserve natural resources and improve rural economies through community leadership and enhanced educational opportunities.

Q2. How organization aligns with ARC’s Plan & Goals:

With our mission statement as our guide, Appalachian RC&D Council (ARCD) produces robust programming that aligns with the ARC’s goals number 1, 2, 4 and 5.  ARCD has developed programs around food, agriculture, and conservation of the region’s natural resources.

ARCD’s Field school is a training course for beginning farmers and ranchers that offers two sections: Winter Business Intensive is a nine-session business and marketing course where participants are trained in aspects of what is needed to be successful including business models, regulations, markets and marketing, budget development, staffing and time considerations, etc.  This section was accredited two years ago by the TN Department of Agriculture for participants to receive education credits toward state cost-share programs.  Summer Field School is a summer filled with on-site and hands-on workshop opportunities for beginning and seasoned farmers.  Sessions include important topics such as soil and water conservation, rotational grazing, irrigation installation, beekeeping, etc.  Both the Winter and Summer Field Schools are perennially evaluated to ensure that topics are relevant and timely for the participants.  Field School will begin its sixth season of classes in November 2020.

With land access as one of the greatest challenges for beginning farmers, ARCD developed and maintains a database that matches landowners with landseekers.  TN Farm Link was developed to match those who want to sell, lease, or need management of farmlands with those who want to buy, rent, or manage farmlands.  This program has created some wonderful success stories and it serves the entire state of TN. 

Farm Fresh Appalachia is a Farmers Market Promotion Project funded by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.  This program has provided opportunity for ARCD to assist regional farmers markets in marketing and promotion by providing the markets with materials and with education on state regulations, as well as market promotion so that the markets have greater sustainability.  This project also supports SNAP outreach in the region by partnering with other organizations to inform SNAP recipients of markets that accept SNAP benefits and which markets have opportunity for doubling or increasing SNAP dollar values.  SNAP-ready markets provide healthy nutritional options while supporting the region’s small to mid-size farms who sell at farmers markets.  In conjunction with the Farm Fresh Appalachia program, ARCD hosts annual CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) fairs for participants to sign up for CSAs from local farms, and also coordinates and hosts an annual Farm Tour of regional farms.  ARCD’s Farm Fresh Appalachia Program Director is also on the board of directors for the TN Association of Farmers Markets and works to improve opportunities for farmers markets statewide.

ARCD’s Build It Up (BIU) program began in 2012 and continues to be an extremely popular and beneficial program.  BIU provides seeds, plant starts, tilling service, hand tools, fertilizer and pest-control, season extension supplies, and education on how to organically grow fruits and vegetables in your own backyard.  Education is also provided on how to harvest, cook, and preserve fruits and vegetables.  This program is primarily targets low-income families, but we have recently added a small market gardener component.  We have seen a significant increase in interest with this program along with Field School and TN Farm Link since the COVID pandemic.

ARCD is also committed to developing next-generation leaders.  In 2020 ARCD began an AmeriCorps program that focuses on food and agriculture with Healthy Futures outcomes.  ARCD places AmeriCorps Service Members at host sites within the state of TN for direct service to their communities. ARCD also supports and hosts Environthon which is a regional, state, and national competition for high school students.  Envirothon team participants compete in five conservation categories: soils, aquatics, forestry, wildlife, and a current-event topic.  ARCD hosts the regional competition and accompanies the winning team to the state competition.  ARCD ensures that the regional competition is administered by industry leaders who spend time with the participants at the competition to talk about professional work in the various fields and answer questions.  ARCD is also part of the Washington County Ag Partnership which hosts FFA leadership tours where students are able to tour farms and agricultural businesses/organizations to better understand the opportunities that are available and spend Q&A time with current professionals. 

ARCD programming also includes partnership with TN Division of Forestry to implement statewide wildfire mitigation projects, the National Association of RC&D Councils to deliver additional beginning farmer training and youth leadership nationwide, and with Grow Appalachia to provide Technical Assistance to farmers.  Organizational and business partnerships/collaborations are diverse and numerous and include many other regional organizations such as the First TN Development District, Northeast TN Regional Economic Partnership, and Northeast TN Tourism Association.

Q3. IRS Filing Status: 501(c)(3)   

Q4. Unit or Chapter of Larger Organization: No

Q5. Employees:

Full-Time/Part-Time Employees: 4/0 (as of 9/1/2020)

Full-Time/Part-Time Employees: 4/0 (as of 12/31/2019)

Current Year Income/Expenses: $451054.00/$459148.00

Q6. Fiscal Year: Calendar

Q7. Budget Level

Last Fiscal Year Income/Expenses (Actual): $59331.37 / $560384.94

Current Year Income/Expenses (Projected): $451054.00 / $459148.00

Balance Sheet

Q8. Restricted Reserves (Amount): Yes ($8800.00)

Q9. CARES Act Funding (Amount): No ($)
Received From:   Date Received:
For What Purpose(s):

Q10. Negative Impacts from COVID-19:

COVID-19 abruptly impacted ARCD’s programming.  We were unable to celebrate and promote the opening season of farmers markets because many markets were delayed by the state prohibition to operate.  Our wildfire mitigation projects came to a screeching halt because of supply chain interruptions of products and lack of contractor availability before the grant funds expired.  In both cases of farmers markets and wildfire mitigation, ARCD lost several thousands of dollars in administration funds as well as the ability to effectively serve the communities as we had in the past.  Additionally, ARCD was informed that state funds that have supported a portion of the Field School’s expenses for staff and supplies for the past five years would no longer be available as they were being reallocated for *at least* the next two years due to COVID.  ARCD’s endowment fund lost nearly 13% at the onset of the pandemic.  The office building where ARCD rented office space was shut down and inaccessible except in very limited capacity and continues to have limited access.  The ARCD team initially worked from home, connecting through phone calls and Zoom, but eventually found it necessary to find office space that was not shared with other organizations which increased the rent payment by nearly double.  COVID has impacted the ability to also administer several grant opportunities for youth education such as Envirothon and youth conservation interns due to the impact on schools and organizations.  Host sites for AmeriCorps Service Members that had previously committed to hosting ASMs found themselves no longer able to do so, leaving ARCD unable to fulfill program plans and reducing the projected funding/income from the program.  Fortunately, all employees are still working, but due to reduced income pay cuts were necessary in some cases.

Q11. Top Three Concerns:
1. Can I keep all employees working (earning income)?
2. Can we rise to meet the challenges presented by COVID and still serve our communities to the degree that we have previously?
3. How do we ensure that the organization survives the next economic challenge? (Because there will always be another one.)

How Participation in Program Will Address Concerns:

A strategic fundraising plan for ARCD has not existed in the past.  The organization has produced small farm-to-table or other very small fundraisers, but these type of fundraisers need a great deal of effort (time/energy) by the organization’s staff and while it does increase the organization’s visibility and opportunity to talk about programs, the financial ROI is marginal.  The organization needs a portfolio of short-term, mid-term, and long-term fundraising and development plans including a planned giving program.  With the opportunity to participate in the Fundraising program, we can diversify our revenue streams to include reasonable fundraising and to better shield ourselves against the next financial challenge ensuring that we carry on our service to our communities when they need us the most. 


Q12. Applying as a Proposed Cohort? No

Q13. Executive Director or CEO Will Participate in the Program? Yes

Q14. Top Two Choices for Cohort Instruction:

Course #1 Choice: 1-Fundraising

Course #2 Choice: 2-Long-term Financial Management

Q15. Desired Course Schedule for Cohort Instruction:

#1 Desired Course Schedule: 1-Fall 2020: 11-Week Course (Nov. 9, 2020 -Jan. 24, 2021)

#2 Desired Course Schedule: 2-Winter 2021: 10-Week Course (Jan. 25. 2021 – Apr. 4, 2021)


Name: Susan McKinney McKinney, Executive Director

Application Approved by Organization Director or CEO? Yes, Approved by Executive Director/CEO

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