Conservation Fellowship Nears Deadline

Beginning Farmer Conservation Fellowship Program Offers Year-Round Mentorship

Susan Payne
By  Susan Payne , DTN Social Media and Young Farmer Editor
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Farmer Patricia Pinto raises chickens on her farm north of Omaha. Pinto is a graduate of the first group of Conservation Fellows hosted by the Center for Rural Affairs. (Photo courtesy of Center for Rural Affairs)

OMAHA (DTN) -- Cropping, rotational grazing and pollinator habitats are vital to the health of soil and the environment while producing food. That's why the Center for Rural Affairs is hosting the second annual Beginning Farmer Conservation Fellowship Program.

In partnership with the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society (NSAS), Big Muddy Urban Farm and Metro Community College, the fellowship offers year-round mentorship and a $2,000 stipend. Ten applicants will be chosen to complete the fellowship during 2023.

The program was created to provide beginning farmers with hands-on and technical skills to implement conservation practices and facilitate conservation workshops.

Young, beginning farmers and ranchers, including Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) farmers, LGBTQ+, women, and veterans, are encouraged to apply for the fellowship by Jan. 3, 2023. Fellows will complete coursework on federal conservation programs and practices, climate change impacts and mitigation, understanding and addressing racial equity and local leadership opportunities and facilitation.

Fellows must farm within the state of Nebraska and be able to attend a one-day workshop in Aurora, Nebraska, coinciding with the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society's annual two-day conference, Local Food + Healthy Farms held in early February.

Applicants should expect to be notified about their status by Jan. 6.

"The conservation curriculum during the workshop and conference will cover a wide range of topics that fellows can apply to their own farming practices," said Meg Jackson, program coordinator at NSAS. "They will learn about access to farm financing, risk management and conservation cost-share programs so producers can start, develop and grow their farm business."

In addition to the conference and workshop, fellows will work with a mentor three times during the year to develop an on-farm conservation project proposal and budget, submit to CFRA for approval and implement the project on their farm.

Fellows will be expected to host a small tour of their land and present on the implemented conservation practice to their mentors, project partners and other beginning farmers. Then, in 2024, fellows will be expected to deliver a presentation on their individual projects during the NSAS Annual Conference.

"Fellows receive $2,000 to implement a conservation practice on their land and to cover any expenses related to that project," said Jackson.

An additional $2,000 will be provided to fellows for travel and lost work hours during in-person meetings during the duration of the fellowship.

For more information about the fellowship, visit….

The application can be found here:….

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Susan Payne

Susan Payne
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