This project resulted in the creation and dissemination of a 30-module curriculum and accompanying handbook. A farm cooperative has used the curriculum for two seasons and it’s been distributed to 47 producers as well as posted on three websites.
Our primary objective was to create a Farm Internship Curriculum and accompanying handbook.
Two producers, an education specialist and our technical advisor developed a 30-module curriculum during the winter and spring of 2006. They taught the modules during the 2006 season and edited the curriculum according to audience and instructor feedback.
During the 2006-07 winter, these producers collaborated with a local nonprofit organization, Within Earthly Bounds (WEB), which is dedicated to providing educational opportunities on small farms in the Siskiyou bio-region.
Through WEB, the producers hired a cooperative intern coordinator who placed a total of nine interns on six participating farms for the 2007 farming season. The coordinator scheduled a rotation of the 20 in-class curriculum modules, which were then taught at the different farms. The WEB coordinator conducted exit interviews with all participating interns. The nine interns reported that the curriculum greatly enhanced their internship experience and increased their knowledge base.
A group of six producers, three of whom collaborated on this project, used the curriculum during the 2007 growing season in a cooperative teaching model. The six producers divided the modules and took turns teaching a group of nine interns over the course of the seasons. The nine interns were interviewed at the end of the program. All nine interns felt that the curriculum greatly enhanced their farm experience. The retention rate of the interns among this pool of farms was higher than it has been in recent memory; no interns left the program before the season ended. The benefits demonstrated in this small group were greater satisfaction among interns and an improved intern retention rate.
The general reaction from producers at the Eco-Farm conference and the OSU Extension workshop was a high level of interest in improving farm internships and an appreciation for a fairly simple yet thorough curriculum that could be used by producers during the busy farm season. Some producers expressed an interest in more information pertaining to employment and insurance legalities of farm internships, topics only briefly covered in the Handbook.
A group of six producers in our region is currently using the curriculum. Forty-one other producers have received the curriculum.
Two project collaborators, Mookie Moss and Maud Powell, attended the January 2007 Eco-Farm Conference in Asilomar, California, and presented the Western SARE intern curriculum at a workshop entitled “Quality Farm Internships.” Approximately 40 producers attended the workshop.
Moss and Powell organized a half-day workshop for regional producers entitled “Creating Quality Farm Internships” on November 5, 2007. They held the workshop at the Oregon State University Extension Office in Central Point and were able to advertise the workshop through Extension publications and mailing lists. Twenty-four producers attended the workshop and received copies of both the internship curriculum and the internship handbook.
In addition, 10 copies of the curriculum were distributed to producers who attended the Brietenbush Farmer to Farmer Retreat.
The curriculum and handbook have been posted on three websites: ATTRA, Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center, and the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative.