Seeking apprentices Currently
Grain Farming Apprenticeship in Havre, MT
Vilicus Farms is a first generation, nationally recognized organic, dryland crop farm located in northern Hill County, Montana. Established in 2009, Vilicus Farms grows a diverse array of heirloom and specialty grains, pulse, oilseed and broadleaf crops within a 5+year rotation on approximately 5,000 acres. Vilicus Farms practices advanced land stewardship at a scale that matters. The Vilicus Farms Apprenticeship is intended to be a multi-season training and mentoring program that immerses highly motivated young professionals in organic farm operation and management – a journey that ultimately ends in farm ownership. Doug and Anna understand the challenges of taking a farm from vision to reality. Through the Vilicus Farms apprenticeship program they hope to give beginning farmers a real opportunity to start a successful organic dryland crop farm in the Northern Great Plains.
Start Date: Flexible start date
To apply, email a resume and letter of interest to Anna Crabtree-Jones.
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Apprentice Program Overview
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.