Farm Internship Curriculum and Handbook

2006 Annual Report for FW05-018

Project Type: Farmer/Rancher
Funds awarded in 2005: $20,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2008
Region: Western
State: Oregon
Principal Investigator:
Thomas Powell
Wolf Gulch Farm

Farm Internship Curriculum and Handbook


The number of small U.S. farms is falling, and the average age of farmers in rising. At the same time, says ATTRA (Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas), the number of young people interested in sustainable agriculture is increasing – more than 10,000 people visited ATTRA’s internship database in 2003 in the Western states alone. These trends have prompted a group of Oregon farmers to develop a program to cultivate interns. Tom and Maud Powell of Wolf Gulch Farm, Kris Hoien of Spirit Gardens and Michael Moss of Boones Farm and Siskiyou Crest Goat Dairy rely on interns as a source of labor. They will use their Western SARE Farmer/Rancher grant to develop a curriculum for interns, a handbook for producers and ag-support professionals and a Web site featuring the material. They’ll also hold a half-day conference on intern training and management

Objectives/Performance Targets

The project has two main objectives:

1. Develop a 42-module curriculum for farm interns.

2. Create a farm internship handbook based on interviews with farmers.


Farmers Michael Moss and Tom Powell met 12 times with Education Specialist Peter O’Connell between February and April 2006. They identified 32 topics for curriculum modules, 22 in the classroom and 10 in the field, and divided the topics between the two farmers based on interest level and experience. Moss and Powell worked independently to collect and organize information to be included in the modules, then provided the information to O’Connell, who wrote the curriculum.

During March and April 2006, Maud Powell did outreach to the greater farming community to encourage interns from the Applegate and Williams valleys to attend the classes, which were held at a local library. She also met with Oregon State University Small Farms Agent Melissa Matthewson, who further publicized the classes. Class attendance ranged from two to 12 students, with an average of six. A core group of four interns attended 90% of the classes. In addition to the classes, five laminated copies of the 10 in-field lesson plans were distributed to growers to be used on their farms.

In addition, the project team was asked to present the results of their project at two regional farming conferences, Eco-Farm in Pacific Grove, CA in January 2007 and the Farmer-to-Farmer workshop in Oregon in February 2007. Maud Powell and Michael Moss were scheduled to present a workshop titled “Quality Field Internships – Teaching the Skills of Small Farming” at Eco-Farm. It was estimated that as many as 100 people would attend the workshop.

Organizers of the Brietenbush Farmer to Farmer workshop had asked Moss and Powell to present the Farmer Intern Curriculum.

The timetable for the remaining portions of the project is:

March 2007: Maud Powell will compile the Internship Handbook.
April 2007: The Internship Curriculum and Handbook will be posted to the ATTRA website and made available to the general public. A half day workshop will be hosted for regional farmers on how to use the lessons effectively.

The project coordinator has requested an extension to complete this project for two reasons: 1) the project team was unable to complete interviews with farmers for the handbook during the busy growing season and 2) a planned conference to present the Internship Curriculum was scheduled to occur after the project period ended.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

Development of the Internship Curriculum has resulted in a local nonprofit organization, Within Early Bounds (WEB), taking an interest to help improve farm internships in Applegate Valley. WEB is currently seeking funds to hire a farm intern coordinator for the 2007 growing season. The coordinator would assist growers in recruiting, hiring and managing interns next season and would help to organize the internship classes. The project team deems this to be a new and promising relationship.


Tim Franklin

[email protected]
Project Manager
Applegate Valley Watershed Cou;ncil
176 Yale Creek Road
Jacksonville, OR 97530
Office Phone: 5418997361
Maud Powell

[email protected]
Wolf Gulch Farm
7000 Applegate Road
Jacksonville, OR 97530
Office Phone: 5418999668