Become a Farmer Mentor

Train an Apprentice on your Farm

Are you looking for a skilled employee who could be a valuable addition to your farm? Consider hiring an apprentice through the California Farm Academy Apprenticeship Program!

Apprenticeship is a system of learning while earning and “learning by doing.” It combines on-the-job training with related supplemental curriculum. The California Farm Academy Apprenticeship Program connects aspiring farm managers with seasoned farmers and ranchers to gain skills, knowledge, and experience that will give them the tools they need to obtain farm manager positions.

As a farm employer, this is your opportunity to mentor the next generation of farm managers. Your participation will help build a pipeline of skilled workers for the agricultural industry and for your operation.

Center for Land-Based Learning images in West Sacramento, CA locations April 27, 2021.

Photo by Fred Greaves 

There are two ways to train an apprentice:

  1. Enroll an existing employee that would benefit from a structured program to gain skills and experience that would better prepare them to perform a management role on your farm
  2. Hire an apprentice from our pool of applicants, which have been pre-selected to ensure high-quality candidates with transferable skills. As the employer, you review the applications, interview candidates you are interested in, and make the hiring decisions. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis all year.

Program Overview

The program is expected to last between 18 and 24 months, depending on your operation. Apprentices complete 3,000 hours of on-the-job training on your farm in addition to 250 or more hours of coursework. Our staff provides structured evaluations four times over the course of the program to ensure apprentices are improving their performance. By the end of the program, our goal is for you to have a high-quality employee who is invested in your operation for the long-term.

It can be challenging to find a reliable employee and even more difficult with the shortage of skilled workers in the ag industry. Here’s how we can help:

  • We can connect you with highly qualified employees. We save you time by recruiting & selecting candidates with experience and transferable skills that can benefit your operation.
  • We can provide a pathway for your employee to become more valuable to your farm. With new state wage requirements, you are required to pay your employees more. Why not take this opportunity to add value to their position?
  • All costs for any off-farm apprentice education is covered by the program, including classes, workshops, and conferences.

Ready to take on an apprentice?

Let’s make sure you meet the requirements:

  • Employers have 10+ years of farming experience, of which 5+ years are in farm management or ownership and employers have trained at least 5 employees.
  • Employers are required to be farming full-time or have a full-time on-site farm manager who will serve as a primary mentor.
  • Farms need to be able to provide sufficient work experience in our work process areas.
  • Apprentices must be paid at least minimum wage, and farmers should be able to provide a $.50 wage increase approximately every six months as they build their skills.
  • Apprentices are hired as employees and need to be covered by worker’s compensation.
  • Farms must comply with all State safety training requirements (OSHA, Heat Illness Prevention, Pesticide Safety, Sexual Harrassment/Anti-Bullying, First Aid/CPR) and complete a Veteran Culture training if hiring a veteran from our program.
  • Under special circumstances, Apprenticeship Program staff may choose to accept a farm employer that does not quite meet the minimum requirements above

There are multiple steps involved in the application process:

Step 1: Interest Form

Submit an interest form which collects basic information and establishes your eligibility to participate in the program.

Step 2: Application

Program staff will follow up to answer any questions and schedule a phone call to complete an application if you meet our minimum requirements. A current farm employer in our program may also call with further questions and discuss their experience in the program.

Step 3: Application Review & Joining our Program

If selected to join the Apprenticeship Program, staff will send Employer Participation Standards.Once signed, you can move forward with reviewing apprentices from our applicant pool or enrolling your current employee.

If you are interested in joining the program, or have questions about whether it would work for you and your farm, please fill out our interest form and our Apprenticeship Program staff will contact you.