Farm Credit Helps California Adults, Students Learn More About Agriculture Careers

Kern County FARMS Leadership student learning about developing and growing new grape varietals from the Grappery.

Adults and high school students interested in careers in agriculture will have help reaching their goals thanks to a recent $15,000 donation by Farm Credit to the Center for Land-Based Learning, a non-profit that inspires, educates and cultivates future generations of California farmers and agricultural leaders.

 Farm Credit donated $10,000 to Land-Based Learning’s California Farm Academy program which offers a seven-month training program for adults interested in becoming farmers, and another $5,000 to the Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management for Sustainability Leadership Program (FARMS), which introduces high school students to college and career opportunities in agriculture, especially in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

 The involved Farm Credit organizations — American AgCredit, CoBank, Farm Credit West, Fresno-Madera Farm Credit and Golden State Farm Credit – are customer-owned associations supporting rural communities and agriculture with reliable, consistent credit and financial services.

 Leili Ghazi, president of CoBank’s Western Region Agribusiness Banking Group, said the contributions are part of Farm Credit’s ongoing efforts to enhance agriculture in California and the West.

 “Farm Credit has been helping support the Center for Land-Based Learning for many years and over that time has contributed nearly $67,000 to help their programs grow,” Ghazi said. “For farming to remain viable, we need a constant influx of new farmers and people working in ag-related occupations, and helping the Center is an important part of our commitment to farming.”

California Farm Academy training program students laying drip irrigation in the student field.

Christine McMorrow, the Winters-based Center’s director of development and communications, said the ongoing Farm Credit contributions have helped enable the Center to grow and expand.

 “Support from Farm Credit and other sponsors and supporters have made a big difference for our programs,” McMorrow said. “It’s allowed us to really establish our programs and to look at what needs we’re not fulfilling and given us the opportunity to offer more where needed.”

 Farm Credit funding helps provide tuition assistance for the Farm Academy – the program costs $4,000 a year – and also helps with an intensive tractor driving and maintenance program. Earlier this year, the program expanded its offerings when it received state certification for its new Beginning Farm and Ranch Manager Apprenticeship Program, which requires 250 hours of coursework and 3,000 hours of paid on-the-job training on a farm under the mentorship of a seasoned farmer.

 The FARMS Leadership program was Land-Based Learning’s first program, launched in 1993. It encourages high school students in 16 counties to get hands-on experience on farms and ranches and to consider making ag a career.

 Many of the students are the first generation in their families to attend college, and many in fact are the sons and daughters of farmworkers.

 “Their parents tell them to get out of agriculture, go to college and get a good job. We encourage them to get a good job in agriculture,” McMorrow said.

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 About Farm Credit: American AgCredit, CoBank, Farm Credit West, Fresno-Madera Farm Credit and Golden State Farm Credit are cooperatively owned lending institutions providing agriculture and rural America with a dependable source of credit. We specialize in financing farmers, ranchers, farmer-owned cooperatives, rural utilities and agribusinesses. Farm Credit offers a broad range of loan products and financial services, including long-term real estate loans, operating lines of credit, equipment and facility loans, cash management and appraisal and leasing services…everything a “growing” business needs. For more information, visit www.farmcreditalliance.com

 About the Center for Land-Based Learning: The mission of the Center for Land-Based Learning is to inspire, educate and cultivate future generations of farmers, agricultural leaders, and natural resource stewards. Combining innovative hands-on experience with classroom learning, participants in Land-Based Learning programs develop leadership skills, learn how sustainable agriculture practices contribute to a healthy ecosystem, and create connections to careers in agriculture and natural resources.  For more information, visit www.landbasedlearning.org