Returning to everyday life after active duty can be challenging for many servicemen and women. In the United States, the Farmer Veteran Coalition supports people leaving careers in the military to help them become farmers and food leaders.

As part of its mission, the coalition has created the Farming Fellowship, which assists veterans with the funding, resources and support needed to forge a successful career in agriculture. It expects prospective fellows to have an agricultural business already or to have plans in place to start one. If you haven’t quite reached this stage in your farming career, the coalition’s online guide gives a clear overview of the vast array of different opportunities available in farming, along with advice on how to find a job in the agricultural sector and what to consider when starting a farm.

Becoming a fellow also requires you to support other aspiring veteran farmers on their journey and to report back on the progress you make. Applicants must have either served or currently be on active duty in the US Armed Forces, or be in the military reserve or National Guard.

In addition to funding, successful farming fellows will receive:

  • an invitation to the annual fellowship retreat (dependent on funding);
  • an invitation to and possible sponsorship for national and local agriculture-related conferences;
  • access to peer mentors, legal assistance, business planning experts and the farmer veteran community;
  • opportunities to become a peer mentor for other farmer veterans;
  • an article about the highlights of their military and agricultural experiences on the Farmer Veteran Coalition website, social media and newsletters.

To apply, you will need to answer the following essay questions:

  1. Explain why you are a good candidate for the Farming Fellowship. What knowledge, skills, values and life experience will you bring to your business?
  2. Describe how you have demonstrated leadership in and out of the military and how your military service has helped/will help you in the food and farming industries.
  3. Describe your most meaningful achievements and how they relate to your agricultural goals.

If you are interested in applying for this year’s round of grants, find out more on the Farmer Veteran Coalition website. The deadline for applications is 1st April 2015.

Photograph: USDA

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