Are you interested in mentoring an aspiring farmer?
We are looking for farmers who are dedicated stewards of the land; are skilled and enthusiastic teachers who have a passion for mentoring young and aspiring farmers; and have a farm philosophy that recognizes the connectedness of the land and people.
The Mentors are at the heart of the Young Agrarians Apprentice Program. Among everything else, they are growing farmers. If you want to pass along your love of the land to the next generation of farmers, consider becoming a Mentor with YA.
ABOUT THE PROGRAM
Young Agrarians and our network of exceptional mentor farmers offer advanced, hands-on apprenticeships in regenerative agriculture. These farmers are foundational in the supporting the learning journey of new and aspiring farmers and offer an immersive experience for YA apprentices.
The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves. –Steven Spielberg
Regenerative agriculture has the ability to heal and improve our landscapes, communities, and economies. With the national average age of Canadian ranchers and farmers approaching sixty, and with less than two percent of the Canadian population currently dedicated to growing food within ANY type of production model, it is critical that the next generation of food producers and land stewards have sufficient training opportunities.
Apprentices have gone on to work on other farms, begin their own farming enterprise, and partner with elder agrarians wanting to transition their farms.
Young Agrarians Apprenticeship Program mentors are full-time ranchers and farmers on regenerative agricultural operations located in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
- Have been farming for at least five years in operation and have 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 adequate, safe apprentice housing
- Have Workers Compensation Insurance
Obligations to Apprentices
- Provide full-time employment (unless the agreement with the apprentice is otherwise) and daily mentoring in a safe working environment compliant with provincial and federal requirements
- Provide a work contract including an employment period, work description and expectations, compensation, room and board policy, and termination policy
- Provide adequate, safe housing
- 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
- Emphasize spending regular time with apprentice in a work-learn environment
- Conduct three formal evaluations using a skills checklist with the apprentice to discuss learning goals, observations, and general concerns or questions that arise.
- At a minimum, conduct monthly check-ins between mentors and apprentices to assess well-being and exchange more formalized feedback (though feedback is ongoing and often exchanged informally).
- Conduct entry and exit interviews
Obligations to Young Agrarians
- Complete our online Mentor Application Form
- Host an annual site visit with a YA staff member
- Provide a copy of each evaluation, updated skills checklist, and entry and exit interviews
- Sign a memorandum of understanding contract with YA staff member
- Attend a mandatory mentor orientation ( in-person is preferred, more fun, and you will be fed GOOD FOOD!) OR a webinar orientation (we understand leaving the farm can be tough) prior to the beginning of the season and occasional conference calls throughout the season
- Host the other YA apprentices and/or the broader community for a farm tour & potluck (your apprentice will do this bulk of this planning but will require your support and input)
- Host the YA Apprenticeship Coordinator for one in-person check-in during the season
- Attend apprenticeship graduation and mentor recognition at Organic Alberta conference (not mandatory, but we sure would like to see you there).
PROGRAM SUPPORTS AND BENEFITS
The Young Agrarians Apprenticeship 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 farm operation and apprenticeship
- Outreach and promotion, including advertising online, in print, and in communities local to each apprenticeship
- Logistical and administrative assistance with application and selection process, including provision of a standard application, application processing, and collaborative review
- Guidance for structuring an interview process
- Annual site visits
- One-on-one support as needed
- Annual mentor training
- A network of other mentors for peer-to-peer support
- Participation in educational workshops throughout the season
- Copy of Agrarian Apprenticeship Handbook – developed by the New Agrarian Program, whom we have modelled our program after and who continues to inspire this program.
Duration: Most apprenticeships last 6-12 months, however some farms offer 4-6 month programs. Start dates and end dates will be determined by the host farm and apprentice.
Hours: Work hours will vary with the season; however, apprentices are prepared to work 6-days a week. While summer months offer abundance and long hours; winter brings shorter days, cold weather, and a slower pace. If the apprenticeship extends to the off-season, it is an opportunity to teach your apprentice about business planning and marketing, and/or focus on special projects, such as building and repairs.
Compensation: Apprentices have the opportunity to become fully immersed in your daily labor and operation of your host operation. Room, board, and stipend packages vary from farm to farm. Housing is safe, secure and internet is available on each farm.
Food: While apprentices can expect to have some food provided by their host operations, clarify details and expectations related to food with your apprentice as soon as possible upon accepting them as your apprentice. 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.
Days Off: Clarify details pertaining to days off and paid leave with your apprentice as soon as possible.
Insurance: Each farm is required to have Workers Compensation coverage and insurance.
Orientation: Apprentices attend an orientation late March or early April. Apprentice attendance at this event is mandatory. This orientation may or may not coincide with the mandatory Mentor orientation. This orientation will help prepare you and the community of mentors in this program for the program requirements and expectations, while getting to know each other, YA program staff, and of course have some fun together.
Education and Graduation: Apprentices will be able to attend supplemental trainings and workshops offered in combination with the farm tours and potlucks, and you as a mentor are welcome to attend as well. These workshops are designed to expose apprentices to topics ranging from soil health and land management to financial management and business planning. Apprentices will have the opportunity to attend a regenerative agriculture conference (yet to be determined), free of charge, as part of their apprenticeship curriculum and graduation. Mentors would be welcome to attend this graduation, and will be recognized as mentors.
Farm Log: Apprentices receive a workbook to log their day, for recording weather, hours worked, activities, observations, learning goals and questions that arise. The farm log is used to guide their check-ins with you and program coordinators.
Peer-to-Peer Networking: Apprentices will have the opportunity to network with fellow apprentices, local farmers, agricultural professionals and meet other young agrarians. Each apprentice is responsible for organizing a farm tour with a potluck at their host farm, and will be working with you to plan this event. Some of these will have educational workshops as part of the event, as well. This is an important part of the program and facilitates camaraderie among a community of learners. Your apprentice is not required to attend all the other tours and potlucks (as there will be around 5-10 other farms involved in this program in each province). Please work out with your apprentice which weekends are available for them to leave so they can attend these events. You are welcome to attend these, as well! There will be opportunities for carpooling/ride-sharing.
One-on-one Support: Young Agrarians staff will facilitate an in-person check-in with each apprentice and mentor. Phone calls and emails will be the primary form of communication throughout the season, but the Apprenticeship Coordinator will always be available if mentors want additional check-ins.
Program Work & Evaluation: Mentors are required to complete a formal exit interview and program evaluation with the program coordinators.
Mentor Application Process: (Only complete applications will be reviewed by the host farms)
STEP 1: Online Mentor Application –
Complete the online mentor application – Host Farm Mentor Application Form
STEP 2: Telephone Interviews –
Successful applicants will be contacted for an interview with the program coordinators.
STEP 3: Initial Farm Visit –
Young Agrarian Program Coordinator(s) will arrange a farm visit with you to ensure all the necessary requirements are met for hosting an apprentice
STEP 4: Creating your Farm Profile –
Successful mentor applicants will be working with the Apprenticeship Coordinator to create a farm profile for the website and application process. There will be templates and guidance provided.
Apprenticeship applications are due by January 31, 2023.
Host farms will conduct video or phone interviews with prospective apprentices following application deadline. Confirmation of successful applicants will be in early March. Orientation dates are tentatively set for mid-to-late March.
Apprentice start dates vary by farm; however, generally begin in April or May.
For more information contact:
Kolby Peterson, YA Alberta Apprenticeship Coordinator
Alieka Beckett, YA SK Apprenticeship Coordinator
Sara Yagelniski, YA MB Apprenticeship Coordinator
The program curriculum and materials have been adapted from the Quivira Coalition’s New Agrarian Apprenticeship program.