Are you passionate about sustainable food and agriculture? Do you want to enhance your ability to advocate for causes that are important to you and your community? Consider applying to CFSA’s Member Advocacy Program!

Our next cohort kicks off in August. Apply to be part of it by August 2, 2024!

The Member Advocacy Program (MAP) is an opportunity for those interested in upping their advocacy game by studying with the CFSA Policy Team. Participants will grow their advocacy skills and network with fellow food and farming advocates across North and South Carolina.

There are two opportunities to participate in 2024: January – May and August- December.

Read on to see if the program is right for you and how to apply.

Who Should Apply

As a benefit of membership, MAP is only available to CFSA members. The program is offered without monetary cost—just your full participation and commitment to advocacy!

The program is limited to 12 students in each class (or cohort, as we sometimes call it), selected by an application process. We keep groups small to give participants access to one-on-one mentorship with the CFSA Policy Team.

“Conversing and communicating are two different things. MAP teaches one how to listen and how to be heard so that real change can begin. Sign up today…you will be glad you did!” – Rev. Keith Sexton

Members who don’t live in the Carolinas but who are eager to attend are welcome to apply.

Not a CFSA member yet? Join today!

Your Voice Can Change Food and Farm Policy

The effective advocacy of constituents is critical in lawmakers’ and agency officials’ decisions about which policies to champion and which to oppose. Your voice can make a difference in whether essential agriculture programs are equitable, accessible, and adequately funded.

What You Will Learn

CFSA Policy Director, Matt Kneece, along with special guests will present the courses. Collectively, you will benefit from decades of advocacy and policy experience that they are excited to share with you!

Members selected for the program will have the opportunity to build community with other food system advocates across North and South Carolina and learn more about:

  • Meeting with lawmakers and agency officials
  • Grassroots advocacy activities and techniques
  • Networking and coalition building
  • Effectively telling their story
  • Educating their community
  • The legislative and administrative process at all levels of government
  • And more!

Logistics & Important Dates

In 2024, there are two opportunities to join MAP.

  • Cohort 1: January to May
  • Cohort 2: August to December – Application due by Friday, Aug. 2.

Accepted participants will meet on the last Wednesday of each month from 5-6:30 p.m. The curriculum will include five virtual classes and (at least) two chances to participate in real-world advocacy activities.

Important Dates for Cohort 2

  • Application period opens June 11, 2024
  • Application period closes Aug. 2, 2024
  • Accepted participants notified Aug. 7, 2024

Virtual Class Schedule for Cohort 2

  • Aug. 28 (Wednesday) – 5-6:30 p.m.
  • Sept. 25 (Wednesday) – 5-6:30 p.m.
  • Oct. 30 (Wednesday) – 5-6:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 20 (Wednesday) – 5-6:30 p.m.
  • Dec. 18 (Wednesday) – 5-6:30 p.m.

Hear From Recent Graduates

Avi Li headshot“The Member Advocacy Program was a great way to get to know the landscape of critical political actors for different jurisdictions throughout the Carolinas.

“It provided us with a sense of key legislative issues, where we need to act or apply pressure for different policies, and how to organize in coalitions around these issues. Our organization is determining how and where we can build advocacy into our work, and this program is certainly helping us to determine our priorities. I am so grateful for this opportunity!”

– Avi Li (Asheville, NC)
Organic Growers School Program Coordinator and 2021 MAP graduate

Keith Sexton

“My first opportunity to advocate was years ago when the legislature proposed tolls on North Carolina commuter ferries. We were armed with the economic impacts for our coastal communities (even school buses would be charged a toll). However, I found myself ill-prepared to address why this matters to legislators representing districts with congested highways.

“The Member Advocacy Program (MAP) gave me the tools and training to effectively engage in meaningful conversations with legislators. Having an elevator speech, data, and stories of how farmers are impacted by the issue opens up productive dialogue. Connecting with legislators on how the legislation can make a better life for North Carolinians resonates across the partisan divide.

“Conversing and communicating are two different things. MAP teaches one how to listen and how to be heard so that real change can begin. Sign up today…you will be glad you did!”

-Rev. Keith Sexton, United Methodist Pastor, beekeeper, and 2021 MAP graduate


Apply for MAP

Applications for the August to December cohort are currently open.

Before you apply: Please note that there is a high demand for this program and a limited number of spaces available. Since your selection means another applicant was not selected, we request that you commit to attending each class.

Apply Now button

Become a CFSA Policy Ambassador

CFSA members who graduate from the MAP will have the opportunity to become Policy Ambassadors. Each ambassador picks the issue they are most passionate about and becomes CFSA’s grassroots advocacy expert on the subject!

Have questions?

Email Matt Kneece, CFSA Policy Director at [email protected].