It’s been a few seasons since the last update about our assessment of what a vocational training program for a new generation of graziers might look like, its need and the opportunities associated in supporting new pathways forged for this meaningful career.

Since our last reporting of our findings from European grazier training programs and the first push surveying prospective trainees and industry stakeholders, we have made some big strides.

We’ve teamed up with an organization based in New Mexico called the Quivira Coalition whose mission is to support resilience on working landscapes through education, innovation and collaboration. Quivira runs the New Agrarian Program supporting first time farmers and ranchers through facilitating on-the-ground apprenticeship opportunities through the mentorship of experienced farmers and ranchers in established land and livestock and farming operations.

Collaborating with Quivira to better understand how a vocational training program can ready and support these apprentices has begun to shed brighter light on how to best approach developing a program to answer to the need for skill-building, experience, resources and connections that lead to viable careers in agriculture, animal husbandry and land stewardship.

We have also submitted a grant proposal to the USDA this past winter to garner support for the program via the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program fund and we are awaiting for the review response to be announced in the fall. We feel good about the potential of being awarded this grant which will accelerate the momentum and foundation building of what we have deemed this project as the Grazing School of the West.

In the meantime we have successfully raised bridge funding to further our research and development phase assessing what the true needs are for a vocational training program specific to a new kind of grazier and what the program will provide in training and opportunities it will create for trainees post-completion.

Continuing to garner support and collaboration with livestock producers, public agencies, organizations, institutions, businesses and professionals is essential in this phase to build upon current educational, training and professional development programs and to support growing opportunities in stewarding land with livestock, and creating viability and opportunities in the career paths in food and fiber.

While we continue our research and needs assessment we will begin to host orientations for those interested in learning about this career path and are planning the piloting of curriculum that is envisioned for the Grazing School of the West.

It is time to again ask you to contribute your thoughts, interests and opinions. We are humbly calling all potential future graziers, field professionals, educators, scientists, producers, public agents, land and livestock managers, and the like to join this effort to create an impactful and effective program to support growing graziers to answer to the pressing demands for increased land stewardship and viable careers in land and livestock.

Here is how you can contribute to get involved:

Thank you and stay tuned for more frequent updates!

All the best,
Brittany Cole Bush / BCB Shepherdess of the Grazing School of the West