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Program Overview

The New Agrarian Program (NAP) partners with skilled ranchers and farmers to offer annual apprenticeships in regenerative agriculture. Together, we create opportunities for comprehensive, full-immersion experiential learning from expert practitioners in professional settings. This program is designed to support the next generation of food producers and specifically targets first-career professionals with a sincere commitment to life at the intersection of conservation and regenerative agriculture. NAP mentors are dedicated stewards of the land; they practice intentional, regenerative methods of food or fiber production, provide excellent animal care, and are skilled and enthusiastic teachers.


Contact Hours - Apprentices can expect approximately 1200-1600 contact hours over an eight month period of six-day work weeks.

Orientation - Apprentices attend a group orientation in March, held in or near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Apprentice Workbook - Each apprentice receives a copy of the NAP Apprentice Workbook, which includes a daily work log for recording weather, hours worked, activities, observations and questions that arise during the day. Work logs are shared with mentors during check-ins, serving to guide the review of tasks completed and assess progress. The workbook also includes a schedule of the full eight months of the apprenticeship to help the apprentice track important program dates and events.

Bimonthly Evaluation - Apprentices schedule an initial assessment upon arrival, followed by a minimum of four evaluations with their mentors throughout the season, approximately one every other month. During each check-in, apprentices and mentors review skills checklists, which are tailored to each apprenticeship, and discuss other topics or concerns as needed.

Ranch/Farm Visits - During their eight-month apprenticeships, apprentices seek out, arrange and conduct site visits to a minimum of two other operations--ideally but not necessarily other NAP hosts. The purpose of these visits is to expose the apprentice to different perspectives and practices.

NAP Education - Apprentices receive approximately thirty-five hours of online instruction covering a range of topics relevant to land health, business development, and financial management. These webinars are offered through Holistic Management International (HMI), and divided into five, six-week courses.

Quivira Conference - Apprentices attend the annual Quivira Conference where they represent the program and assist with a variety of tasks and events including the New Agrarian Career Connection. Graduation from the program takes place and is celebrated at the conference.

NAP Reports - Each apprentice submits two reports to NAP: 1) a one-page personal introduction, due the second week of the apprenticeship, and 2) a three-page final report and a copy of the completed skills checklist, due November 1.


NAP apprenticeships are designed to provide immersive, experiential education and professional training alongside a skilled practitioner, with regular online classroom sessions to enrich and complement on-the-ground learning.


Apprentice education is divided into four categories: experiential learning, online classroom sessions, visits to other operations and the annual Quivira Conference.

  • Experiential learning is the foundation of the apprenticeship. Apprentices spend more than 80 percent of their scheduled time on the host operation working alongside their mentor or, as their learning progresses, engaging in more independent activities. They engage in all activities necessary for the daily operation of the ranch or farm. Basic, repetitive tasks are balanced with new and increasingly challenging work to enable the development of higher-level skills and to further apprentice learning.
  • Online Classroom instruction is hosted by Holistic Management International Certified Educators. These sessions, which total approximately thirty-five hours of classroom instruction, are organized into five separate courses, each lasting six to seven weeks and addressing topics ranging from soil health and land management to biological monitoring, financial management and business planning. All NAP apprentices participate in the webinars at the same time each week. Reading and writing exercises are assigned and generally require two to three hours to complete before the next session. Apprentices may have additional opportunities to attend meetings, workshops, and conferences local to their host operations.
  • Visits to other ranches and farms offer apprentices the opportunity to see different models and management styles. Apprentices are responsible for identifying operations they are interested in visiting, contacting them, and scheduling visits ideally one to two days in length. Ranch and farm visits are typically arranged to other NAP host operations, but this is not a requirement.
  • The Quivira Conference is presented each November in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Over a three day period, apprentices attend a wide variety of workshops and plenary presentations addressing land health, regenerative agriculture, food systems and other relevant topics. The conference offers apprentices an opportunity to network and seek out their next career steps.


An apprenticeship is designed to be a hands-on, working and learning experience, offering high-quality professional training and education. The greatest benefit to apprentices is the opportunity to become fully immersed in the daily labor and operation of their host operation. Other compensation includes:
  • Education - Approximately 1200-1600 hours of direct mentorship and hands-on learning, thirty-five hours of online classroom instruction, visits to other operations, and the annual Quivira Conference.
  • Stipend - Apprentices receive monthly pay as employees of their host ranch or farm. The specific amount is determined by the host mentor, based on labor law and apprenticeship regulations specific to their state.
  • Housing - Mentors provide apprentice housing on or near the ranch or farm, separate from mentor housing. Housing includes adequate heating and other utilities, easy access to cooking and bathing facilities, and some private space for the apprentice. Apprentices are expected to keep living spaces clean at all times. While there will usually be Internet access on host operations, it may or may not be directly accessible in the apprentice housing. Apprentices are expected to provide their own telephones and telephone service.
  • Food - While apprentices can expect to have some food provided by their host operations, they must clarify details and expectations related to food with their mentors as soon as possible upon accepting the apprenticeship position. Some mentors will provide a variety of food as ranch or farm products, while others will provide shared meals or possibly additional food stipends. Apprentices may be expected to participate in food preparation and clean-up for shared meals.
  • Workers' Compensation - Apprentices are covered by workers' compensation during the periods of their apprenticeships spent on the host operation. While most work-related injuries are covered, those that occur during off hours are not. Mentors will discuss details with apprentices as soon as possible after they arrive at the host operation.
  • Days Off - Apprentices will be given a minimum of one day off per week (or two consecutive days off every other week). The day off will be the same each week, and will begin by 4:30 the previous day when possible, and be free of any and all host ranch/farm-related obligations.
  • Paid Leave - Apprentices generally may negotiate up to five days paid personal leave for their eight-month apprenticeship. Apprentices are encouraged to clarify details pertaining to days off and paid leave with their mentors as soon as possible upon beginning their apprenticeship.


NAP guidelines are general by design in order to allow for the incorporation of mentor needs and circumstances into custom-designed apprenticeships.


NAP mentors are full-time ranchers and farmers on regenerative agricultural operations located in the western United States. These operations provide products to local/regional markets and/or specialize in soil regeneration. To qualify for inclusion in the apprenticeship program, mentors must:
  • Have at least five years of experience in agriculture and previous experience directly supervising ranch/farm staff or trainees
  • Practice ranching or farming that prioritizes healthy soil, healthy food, and healthy communities; maintain a culture, rhythm, and agricultural practice that provides a high quality of life for both people and animals, regenerates soil, vegetation, and riparian areas, and protects water quality
  • Demonstrate a desire to teach and invest substantial time as a dedicated mentor; be ready and willing to be an apprentice's full-time employer, teacher, and life coach; insure that the apprentice receives ample hands-on experience and instruction in every aspect of the operation
  • Be ready to include an apprentice on payroll according to the requirements of the IRS and state taxation division (or willing to learn how with help from Quivira staff)
  • Supply infrastructure adequate to the requirements of full-time apprentice employment and education, including adequate, safe apprentice housing, independent of mentor housing


In return for passing on knowledge of regenerative agriculture and land stewardship to the next generation, mentors receive:
  • The benefit of NAP's thorough outreach, application, and selection process, targeted at highly motivated young people with some previous experience, already committed to lives and careers in regenerative agriculture, and eager to learn and work hard
  • On average, 170-180 days of apprentice labor, a work value of more than $15,000 over eight months (nine-hour days calculated at $10/hour)
    Logistical, administrative, and limited financial support from NAP
    Annual workshops to increase mentoring skills and share experience with other mentors in the program
  • Participation in a supportive network of New Agrarian Program mentors; opportunities to share experiences, compare notes, and seek input from other NAP mentors as needed
  • Free access to Holistic Management International webinars designed as part of apprentice education
  • Participation in the urgent movement to protect prime agricultural lands from development and ensure a new generation trained in regenerative agriculture and sound land stewardship

New Agrarian Program Support

NAP provides mentors with initial, on-site guidance and basic apprenticeship structure in order to ensure a consistent model across the program. At the same time, mentors are given plenty of room within which to customize apprenticeships. In addition, NAP:
  • Maintains a website with individual pages featuring each mentor operation and apprenticeship
  • Provides extensive outreach and marketing to promote all apprenticeships in the program, including advertising online, in print, and in communities local to each apprenticeship, and promotion through other means such as biannual career connection events and the monthly New Agrarian Newsletter
  • Conducts and assists with the apprentice application and selection process, including a standard application available on the Quivira website, and application processing and collaborative review; works with mentors as needed to select semifinalists for phone interviews; provides guidance as needed for structuring thorough audio-visual interviews via Skype or software and for structuring and conducting thorough in-person interviews and work visits (mentors make final selection)
  • Conducts annual site visits to mentor operations to provide additional support as needed
  • Provides ongoing mentor support through 1) an annual mentor retreat; 2) regular mentor check-in calls, as needed; 3) annual site visits; and 4) one video conference per season that includes all mentors NAP also provides some travel funds to apprentices, and limited financial support to host operations in need of assistance.
  • Up to $3,500 for host operations, to be applied toward the apprentice stipend and other expenses associated with apprentice employment (housing/board, workers' compensation, etc.)
  • Up to $1,000 paid directly to each apprentice for travel expenses associated with apprenticeships and small items such as tools or equipment necessary for the apprenticeship
  • Approximately $500 per apprentice for registration and accommodation at the annual Quivira Conference

Mentor Obligations

A well-designed and well-managed apprenticeship provides a good balance of active instruction, hands-on skill development and labor in support of the daily operation of the ranch or farm. Mentors commit to providing their apprentices with the highest quality educational and employment experience within their means. In order to ensure a successful apprenticeship and the effective integration of work and instruction, mentors:
  • Provide apprentice with full-time employment (approx. 170-180 days over eight months), in-depth education, and daily mentoring in a safe and sanitary working and learning environment, in compliance with all state and federal worker safety requirements
  • Place apprentice on operation's payroll as formal employee with access to workers' compensation and unemployment insurance and in full compliance with local labor laws
  • Create a work contract--to be signed and dated by both mentor and apprentice--which includes details regarding employment period, work description and expectations, compensation (stipend, housing and other components described above), and termination policy (using NAP contract templates if needed)
  • Sign a memorandum of understanding and a grant agreement with the Quivira Coalition (New Agrarian Program), to be renewed each season that an apprentice is hosted
  • Ensure apprentice attendance at required NAP events throughout the apprenticeship
  • Strive to balance more work-intensive days or weeks with less intensive ones, allowing for seasonal and operation fluctuations and unexpected needs, and ensuring adequate rest and recovery for the apprentice
  • Conduct weekly planning meetings with apprentice to outline workload expectations, tasks and goals for the week, and to answer questions about or clarify the previous week's tasks
    Spend, on average, several hours per day with apprentice, including teaching time
  • Conduct five formal evaluations with the apprentice--one during the first week and thereafter one every other month--which include updating the apprentice skills checklist and discussion of any additional concerns; conduct a more in-depth final evaluation that also serves as an exit interview; and provide a copy of each evaluation and updated skills checklist to NAP
  • Attend NAP's Annual Mentor Retreat (two days in the off-season), which includes a season debrief, various training and discussion topics, and opportunities for mentors to touch base and compare experiences
  • Participate in NAP's midseason mentor group conference call
  • Attend the Quivira Coalition conference; participate in NAP's Career Connection and Mentor Breakfast
  • Occasionally host other NAP apprentices for ranch/farm overnight work visits, as able
  • Host an annual site visit from and conduct a thorough check-in with one NAP staff member (program coordinator or program director), including overnight accommodation if distance requires it


A single season apprenticeship can often feel like too little time to learn every aspect of an operation. Participating in a second season offers apprentices the opportunity to see everything a second time around and deepen their learning. Apprentices interested in a second year will be evaluated by mentors and New Agrarian Program staff on an individual basis.

Ready to join the New Agrarian Program as a mentor?