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NIFA Programs Salute and Assist Veterans and their Families

Posted by Brent Elrod and Desiree Rucker, National Institute of Food and Agriculture in Initiatives
Nov 10, 2016
U.S. Army Veteran Matt Smiley harvesting heirloom tomatoes at Jacobs Farm
U.S. Army Veteran Matt Smiley harvests heirloom tomatoes at Jacobs Farm in Pescadero, California. (Photo courtesy of Susanna Frohman)

Whether protecting our nation and its highest ideals with military service or ensuring a safe, abundant, and nutritious food supply as veterans, we are grateful for their willingness to serve.

For more than 35 years, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veteran Affairs have collaborated to support those who support America – the U.S. military Veterans and their families. These collaborations have helped thousands of military families gain access to the high quality educational programs in early childhood education, youth development, community capacity and related fields that land-grant university cooperative extension services provide.

In nearly every state, 4-H Military Partnerships offers youth development programs for children from military families in the form of day and resident camps, community 4-H clubs and leadership development programs. Other key initiatives include the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness (Penn State), the Virtual Lab School (Ohio State) and the Military Families Learning Network (eXtension).  Each of these programs provide the most up-to-date, evidence-based programming to strengthen military families.

NIFA also engages military veterans with the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP).  BFRDP helps fund organizations that train beginning farmers and ranchers through workshops, educational teams, training, and technical assistance.  At least five percent of BFRDP funding goes to projects that serve military veterans. Some veterans have likened their interest in agricultural careers to “the next mission” in their ongoing service to their country.

Applications for 2017 BFRDP projects are due Dec. 8.  Tufts University’s New Entry Sustainable Farming Project will host a new applicant webinar on Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. EST to provide a review of and the application process.  The Webinar is free, but registration is required.

NIFA staff will join other USDA personnel for the third annual Farmer Veteran Stakeholders Conference beginning Nov. 30 at Michigan State University. The conference offers the largest gathering of the military and agricultural communities in the country.

NIFA proudly collaborates with other governmental and non-governmental organizations, including the Farmer Veteran Coalition, to ensure military and veteran families have the resources and support they need to achieve the highest degree of readiness to accomplish their mission.

NIFA invests in and advances innovative and transformative research, education and extension to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture.

Category/Topic: Initiatives