SDSU Extension launches new AgritourismSD program

South Dakota State University Extension
Farm Forum

BROOKINGS, S.D. — Do you farm or ranch and want to share your passion and excitement for agriculture with others? Are you interested in diversifying your operation’s income? Are you willing to invite people onto your operation for hunting, tours or pasture walks? Are you interested in becoming involved in local foods or farm-to-table ventures? Have you thought about providing lodging or starting a bed and breakfast as an additional enterprise?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, then SDSU Extension has the program for you. AgritourismSD is an opportunity for any working farm or ranch that is interested in drawing visitors while providing a supplemental income for the owner. A new, two-year intensive educational program, AgritourismSD will provide the tools and skills needed to start and develop an agritourism enterprise that can help farmers and ranchers diversify their business.

During the two-year program, participants will engage with each other and experts through face-to-face workshops and interactive webinars, networking and out-of-state learning experiences where they will meet with case study coaches that have strong agritourism enterprises. Participants will be coached through the process on how to enhance or develop their agritourism business plan, with the goal of launching it by the end of the two-year class period.

An additional component of the AgritourismSD program is that three communities — Faulkton, Timber Lake and Wall — have been selected to participate as agritourism hubs. Participants in the program that live near these communities will work together with other local partners to foster that community as an agritourism destination. These hubs will serve as models that other participants can recreate in their own local communities. The three sites will be holding recruitment meetings in January.

“This program will provide participants with not only the tools and resources they need to be successful in agritourism, but it also is a great stepping stone for our South Dakota communities to really put themselves on the map,” says Peggy Schlechter, SDSU Extension community vitality field specialist.

“Today’s visitor to South Dakota is different,” says Jacey Ellsworth, industry outreach and development representative with the South Dakota Department of Tourism, who is also involved with the project. “Visitors are looking for more unique, off-the-beaten path experiences. They visit our state and drive by all our farm and ranch land and there really is a desire to learn more. This is a great opportunity for producers to educate those visitors on agriculture.”

Workshops during the program will take place throughout the state and participants are expected to provide their own transportation to most in-state events. Other expenses associated with the meetings — hotels and meals — will be covered by AgritourismSD.

The program is open to all farmers and ranchers who have less than 10 years of agritourism experience. Producers must have started an agritourism business or possess a strong desire to add one to their operation. Up to 20 operations will be selected based on an application and a webinar interview. Husbands and wives, siblings or direct family members can apply.

Participants must make a two-year commitment to the program and take an active role in all program components. The registration fee is $1,250 per individual. The program will start summer 2021.

AgritourismSD was developed after the SDSU Extension team saw the impact the beefSD program was having on participants, connecting the love of agriculture between beefSD alumni and those eager to share their agriculture story. As a result, the program follows the beefSD model of an intensive, educational program that puts the participants front and center and exposes them to new ideas and opportunities. Alumni of beefSD who wish to develop an agritourism enterprise are encouraged to attend.

The program is funded by a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Development Program grant (

For questions or more information about the program, contact Stacy Hadrick, SDSU Extension associate and program coordinator, at 605-374-1195 or or Krista Ehlert, SDSU Extension range specialist, at 605-394-2236 or