The New Agrarian Program (NAP) partners with skilled ranchers and farmers to offer annual apprenticeships in regenerative agriculture. Our apprentices learn from expert practitioners in full-immersion professional settings.
This program specifically targets first-career professionals with a sincere commitment to life at the intersection of conservation and regenerative agriculture.
We also seek mentors who are dedicated stewards of the land; practice intentional, regenerative methods of food or fiber production; provide excellent animal care; and are skilled and enthusiastic teachers.
“Once upon a time apprenticeship was the primary form of education available to a person, whatever the field – medicine, music, cobbler, or scholar. Not necessarily a beginner but not yet a master, an apprentice agreed to work for a specific period of time for a master craftsperson in a craft or trade, in return for instruction. An agrarian apprenticeship is a form of this age-old process whereby a learner becomes a practitioner.” – Julie Sullivan, San Juan Ranch, CO
Since 2008, NAP has partnered with ranches and farms around the west to offer eight-month apprenticeships and has successfully graduated over 40 apprentices.
Agriculture drives economies, creates green jobs and directly affects the health of our nation. With the national average age of U.S. ranchers and farmers approaching sixty, and with less than two percent of the U.S. population currently dedicated to producing food, it is critical that the next generation of food producers and land stewards have sufficient training opportunities.
NAP Apprentices have gone on to become ranch managers, start their own agricultural operations, join family businesses with new enterprises, work at federal agencies and nonprofits providing direct services to ranchers and farmers, and a number of other critical roles to the future of healthy working lands and functioning food systems.
For Ranchers and Farmers
Help train the next generation of regenerative land managers and food producers. We are actively seeking ranches and farms to join our New Agrarian Program as mentors for the next generation of regenerative agriculture practitioners.
NAP mentors are dedicated stewards of the land; they practice intentional, regenerative methods of food production, provide excellent animal care, and are skilled and enthusiastic teachers. Quivira partners with mentors who are full-time, established ranchers or farmers with a minimum of five years’ experience and who are passionate teachers actively seeking to train young people in their field.
Quivira provides training and technical support to mentors in: finding apprentices who are qualified and a good fit; understanding the legalities and logistics related to having an on-ranch or on-farm employee; communicating with apprentices and evaluating their work and learning.
We currently partner with mentor ranches and farms in New Mexico, California, Colorado and Montana; our focus is on operations in the arid to semi-arid west.
NAP guidelines are general by design in order to allow for the incorporation of mentor needs and circumstances into custom-designed apprenticeships.
New Agrarian Program 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.
- Have five years in operation and previous experience directly supervising ranch/farm staff or trainees
- Prioritize healthy soil, food, communities, and ecosystems;
- Maintain a culture, rhythm, and agricultural practice that provides a high quality of life for both people and animals
- Want to teach and to be an apprentice’s full-time employer, teacher, and life coach;
- Have time and capacity to instruct an apprentice and give him or her meaningful feedback
- Have a payroll sytems compliant with the requirements of the IRS and state taxation division
- Have adequate, safe apprentice housing, independent of mentor housing
An apprenticeship provides a good balance of active instruction, hands-on skill development and labor in support of the daily operation of a ranch or farm. Mentors commit to providing their apprentices with education and employment experience within their means. In order to ensure a successful apprenticeship and the effective integration of work and instruction, mentors in our program can expect to do the following.
- Provide full-time employment (approx. 170-180 days over eight months) and daily mentoring in a safe working environment compliant with state and federal requirements
- Pay as an employee with access to workers’ compensation and unemployment insurance compliant with labor laws
- Provide a work contract including an employment period, work description and expectations, compensation, and termination policy
- Balance work-intensive days or weeks due to seasonal fluctuation with adequate rest and time off
- Conduct weekly planning meetings with apprentice to outline workload expectations and to answer questions
- Spend several hours per day with apprentice in a work-learn environment
- Conduct four formal evaluations using a skills checklist with the apprentice
- Conduct entry and exit interviews
- Provide a copy of each evaluation, updated skills checklist, and entry and exit interviews
- Sign an annual memorandum of understanding and a grant agreement
- Attend mentor orientation and periodic conference calls throughout the season
- Attend the Quivira Coalition conference and participate in NAP’s Career Connection and Mentor Breakfast during the event
- Occasionally host other NAP apprentices for ranch/farm overnight work visits
- Host an annual site visit with a staff member including overnight accommodation if distance requires it
New Agrarian Program Support and Benefits
The New Agrarian Program 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.
What we provide
- Individual website pages featuring each mentor operation and apprenticeship
- Outreach and promotion, including advertising online, in print, and in communities local to each apprenticeship
- Assistance with application and selection process, including a standard application, application processing, and collaborative review
- Guidance for structuring thorough two-phase interview process
- Annual site visits
- One-on-one support as needed
- Annual mentor training
- A network of other mentors for peer-to-peer support
- Support for travel expenses associated with apprenticeships
- Registration at the annual Quivira Conference for both mentors and apprentices
How you benefit
- Access to highly motivated young people with experience and a commitment to careers in agriculture
- 170 – 180 days of apprentice labor
- Logistical, administrative, and limited financial support from the Quivira Coalition
- Training in mentorship
- A supportive network of New Agrarian Program mentors to share experiences, compare notes, and seek input from
- Free access to supplemental education webinars designed as part of apprentice education
Are you considering mentoring apprentices or interns on your ranch or farm? Do you want to improve your apprentice recruitment, selection, training, workflow and feedback? Join our mentor training!
Agrarian Apprenticeship Handbook
For the last year, the New Agrarian Program has delved deep into the state of agricultural apprenticeship in the US as part of a Thornburg Foundation funded research project. The culmination of this work is a 120+ page book detailing our findings, profiling apprenticeship programs around the US, and a guide to starting an apprenticeship on your ranch or farm. In 2015, the New Agrarian Program launched a national dialogue among agricultural apprenticeship programs in order to foster systemic improvements in agricultural education and practice and to encourage the development of new programs of a consistently high quality. Initial research included in-depth analysis of apprenticeship programs, follow-up interviews, and site visits to diverse regions and regenerative agricultural operations. This work has culminated in Agrarian Apprenticeship. We hope you enjoy reading it, and using it as a resource. The digital 1st edition, which includes our 2015 survey results and profiles of apprenticeships nationwide, is available for free online here as a PDF, or you can order the 2nd edition (without the profiles) in hard copy for $10. The print edition is a limited run, so reserve a copy today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
We stay connected with many of our alumni. To date, 90% of past apprentices continue work in agricultural careers. Click on the map below to discover what NAP (and CARLY, the previous name of our program) apprentice alumni are doing now.
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