When farming practices and conservation efforts unite, on-farm resiliency is bolstered. At the intersection of farming and conservation are veteran coalitions geared towards supporting and uplifting veterans as they transition to civilian life. Farming offers a viable career pathway for veterans, and with over 60,000 veterans living in Washington State and the average age of our state’s farmers at 59, veterans represent a considerable potential workforce to tap into as the next generation of farmers.
Supporting conservation stewardship practices in agricultural landscapes, the Washington Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) have been at the forefront of this movement to strengthen farmland preservation, soil health, and our agricultural economy by engaging with landowners on a voluntary basis to implement incentive-based conservation on private land.
Born out of the need to protect and conserve natural resources for future generations, the WACD supports 46 conservation districts in Washington State.
Of the 46 conservation districts, the Spokane County Conservation District has been integral in engaging veterans in farming conservation programs. The Vets of the Farm program encourages the exploration of agriculture and conservation education through programs and curriculum in partnership with the Spokane Community Colleges and Washington State University Extension which helps the transition from military to civilian life by providing farmer-mentors, education, and training.
In cultivating the said next generation of farmers, the Agriculture & Natural Resource Center of Excellence works closely with the state’s educational system and industry to ensure that the next generation of agricultural and natural resource professionals have the knowledge and skillsets to succeed in the rapidly changing agriculture and natural resource industries.
In partnership with the Washington Department of Veteran Affairs Veterans Conservation Corps, ANR strives to support veterans in identifying and accessing college programs that support their needs and provide a pathway that can lead them forward in the agriculture industry. Our Pathways to Excellence Program Guide highlights agriculture and natural resource-related programs within the community and technical college system, specifically marketed towards veterans. Also, look for the Veteran Preference indicator on our job board!
Through the support of programs like Vets on the Farm, veterans have expanded opportunities to pursue long-term careers supported through the community and technical college system, emphasizing the important role that veteran coalitions have in agriculture and natural resource industries statewide –as the Vet on the Farm program has been successfully expanded from one conservation district to six and counting!
To learn more about how WACD, ANR, and WDVA VCC are serving our state’s veterans as they pursue careers in farming and conservation visit these resources:
WACD: Vets on the Farm
WDVA VCC: Veterans Conservation Corps Program