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
- Be financially able to pay your apprentice a monthly stipend and provide partial board
- 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
2023/2024 Winter Mentor Training Series
Each fall/winter, NAP offers a series of free mentor training calls that go in-depth into important topics related to mentoring in agriculture. The calls are hosted via Zoom and are led by Julie Sullivan, NAP’s founding mentor and mentor training specialist.
Calls are on specific Tuesdays at 12 p.m. OR Thursdays at 7 a.m., All times are Mountain Time.
Attendance is required for new mentors confirmed to be joining the program, but returning mentors are welcome to attend. These calls are open to the general public.
Each call focuses on a specific aspect of balancing mentorship and managing your operation.
#1 You and Your operation as Mentor (Sept. 20 @ noon OR Sept. 22 @ 7 a.m.)
Mentoring is different from being an employer in several essential ways. Some mentoring skills are natural for each of us while others will be a stretch; determining your incoming strengths and stretches helps you know what sort of apprentice will work for you. Creating an accurate apprenticeship description that is both appealing and realistic about the ups and downs of regenerative agriculture is the other foundation for an effective and enjoyable mentoring experience. We’ll discuss mentoring skills to hone, and share ways to describe work schedules, location, isolation, and other factors, to be sure your description will appeal to the applicants you most want to attract.
#2 Evaluating Written Applications (Nov. 8 @ noon OR Nov. 10 @ 7 a.m.)
How do you sort through written applications? We will share strategies for tackling the pile of applications, and templates for responses to applicants who you would like to interview and those you will decline.
#3 Interviewing For Your Best Candidate (Dec. 5 @ noon OR Dec. 7 @ 7 a.m.)
How can you best interview to reveal the skill level, motivation and aptitude of an applicant and determine if they are right for your operation? We’ll share great questions that lead to thorough responses regarding experience and motivation. What questions can’t be asked, for legal reasons? How do you find out what you most need to know? And how do you select your finalists? We’ll discuss all this as well as conducting both phone/video and on-site interviews.
#4 Expectations Explained: Yours and Theirs (Jan. 16 @ noon OR Jan. 18 @ 7 a.m.)
You’ve chosen your apprentice and are preparing for their arrival. How do you set clear expectations of job responsibilities, days off, work schedules, team meetings, and your workplace culture? Writing an apprenticeship agreement, creating a skills list, and setting clear boundaries at the beginning can support a successful apprenticeship.
#5 Connecting Work and Education (Feb. 6 @ noon OR Feb. 8 @ 7 a.m.)
How do you structure the workday, week, and month so that priorities are established, and both work and education happen? Strategies shared include weekly planning meetings, how to find those ‘teachable moments’ during a workday, and ways to do up-front training to get your apprentice going and maintain focus, communication and motivation in the busy season.
#6 Sustaining Apprentice Motivation (March 5 @ noon OR March 7 @ 7 a.m.)
Apprentice motivation can falters a few months in. We’ll discuss ways to co-create apprentice goals that take advantage of the built-in learning at your operation, and ways to keep that momentum going through the season, including identifying apprentice solo study, local resource people to learn from, and visiting other operations. Skill sheets are great prompts for this so we’ll discuss ways to make them truly effective and useful to you and your apprentice.
#7 Feedback to Feed Forward (April 23 @ noon OR April 25 @ 7 a.m.)
Actionable feedback catalyzes learning and motivation by correcting errors while looking ahead to further development. We’ll share a variety of tried and true methods for productive feedback conversations both scheduled and impromptu, as well as how to get feedback to help you grow as a mentor.