The Zumwalt Acres Apprenticeship Program: An accessible farming experience for educating and empowering emerging growers

Project Overview

Project Type: Youth Educator
Funds awarded in 2023: $6,000.00
Projected End Date: 01/31/2025
Grant Recipient: Zumwalt Acres
Region: North Central
State: Illinois
Project Manager:
Gavrielle Welbel
Zumwalt Acres


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: agroforestry
  • Education and Training: mentoring, on-farm/ranch research, youth education
  • Farm Business Management: apprentice/intern training
  • Production Systems: agroecosystems
  • Sustainable Communities: ethnic differences/cultural and demographic change, leadership development

    Proposal abstract:

    Apprentices engage in a 3-month, hands-on, live-in learning experience on a regenerative farm. Experienced farmers and foresters mentor apprentices throughout the season in skills related to sustainable horticulture and agroforestry. Apprentices also learn from climate scientists leading an ongoing longitudinal study on agricultural carbon sequestration. To contextualize the work of our farm, we organize guest speakers, workshops, and field trips for apprentices to connect with regional regenerative farmers and scholars. Immersive living with other young changemakers cements their commitments to equity, justice, and environmentally conscious growing practices. Yearly, 21-30 apprentices advance their careers in farming, research, policy, and education.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    • Teach skills in horticulture, agroforestry, mushroom cultivation, beekeeping and conventional to regenerative land transition to 21-30 young people through hands-on mentorship, immersive field trips to regenerative farms, and on-site educational programming¬†
    • Engage young people in applied agricultural research in collaboration with the University of Illinois, Yale University, and our existing SARE Farmer-Rancher projects; share results through presentations, publications, and social media
    • Host farmer-focused field days and community events for apprentices to share their knowledge of sustainable practices and foster dialogue with conventional farmers
    • Build a hopeful community for young people to explore futures in sustainable agriculture and create lifelong friendships
    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.