AMES, Iowa – Military veterans who are interested in a career in agriculture and food production are encouraged to apply for registered apprenticeship with the Iowa-based Veterans in Agriculture nonprofit.
Two registered apprenticeships are available for veterans or civilians. The options are general farmer (three-year program) or a general farmworker (one-year program). Both registered apprenticeships are paid career pathways that combine hands-on learning with required technical instruction.
Veterans in Agriculture is also seeking farmer and agribusiness mentors who are interested in hiring apprentices, and offering the corresponding training and instruction to employees. Mentors can be from the fruit and vegetable industry, conventional crop, livestock agriculture or agribusiness, but the business must be based in Iowa.
Partnering with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, as well as Iowa Microloan and Ag Ventures Alliance, their “Connecting Veterans to Agri-Food System Opportunities” grant was made available through funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. These registered apprenticeship programs are a part of work being done under this grant.
Veterans are often well-suited for careers in agriculture, according to Beth Grabau, director of Veterans in Agriculture. Studies show that nearly half of all veterans are from rural America, with 80% having previous agricultural work experience. Veterans also offer the character, reliability and conditioning that the United States military is known for.
“Each person can choose from career pathways in local food production, commercial agriculture or other food systems industries,” said Courtney Long, the ISU Extension and Outreach partner working on the project, and manager for the Food Systems team within Farm, Food and Enterprise Development. “The program is a way of connecting all individuals, including veterans, with farmers as a way to gain skills and consider new business opportunities.”
Registered apprenticeships require educational instruction in a classroom setting as well as on-farm, ranch and agribusiness training from experienced mentors. Registered agricultural apprenticeships are unique as they offer technical assistance and education related to financial management, whole farm and succession planning, and business plan development leading to successful agricultural careers.
Apprentices are paid by the farmer or agribusiness for whom they work. These registered apprenticeships have been approved by the U.S. Department of Labor and have been approved for the use of earned GI Bill benefits. The cost to apply for an apprenticeship or to be a farm mentor/employer is $250, which is used to offset administrative and reporting costs.
Applications and other program information are available on the Veterans in Agriculture website. For additional information, contact Beth Grabau at 855-951-0108 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Courtney Long can be reached at 515-460-3227 or Court7@iastate.edu
1. Shareable photo: Unloading corn on a grain farm.