Inspiring youth to become leaders in agriculture and the environment

The Sonoma County FARMS (Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management for Sustainability) Leadership program provides innovative, hands-on experiences to urban, suburban and rural youth at working farms, agri- businesses and universities. The program directly engages with Sonoma County’s local agricultural producers and stewards of the environment. Participants develop leadership skills and learn about agricultural practices that contribute to a healthier ecosystem, while connecting with agricultural, environmental, and food system career opportunities. The program model was founded by the Center for Land-Based Learning and is replicated across California. Locally sponsored by the Sonoma Resource Conservation District (RCD), the Sonoma County FARMS Leadership program has been operating over 20 years!

 

The core elements of the FARMS Leadership program:

Leadership: Working in small groups, students identify and complete a “Community Action Project” based on student interest and an identified community need. Leadership and team-building challenges are built into each field day.

College and Career Access: Each FARMS Leadership site visits at least one college or university to learn about college majors, academics, campus life, and career choices available in Agriculture, Environmental Science and related fields.

Sustainability: Students begin to understand the relationship between agriculture and the environment by engaging in hands-on projects, which demonstrate on-farm practices that conserve and help to renew natural resources. They learn about innovative ways farmers are adapting practices to reduce environmental impacts of farming, maintain the viability of family farms and feed an increasing population.

Nutrition: Meals are provided to students to model healthy food choices, expose students to fresh food and how to prepare it. Activities support student learning about nutrition, cooking and daily food choices.

Students are chosen annually through a competitive application process representing the diversity of our region. A minimum of seven field days during the academic year focus on four program pillars: Sustainability, Leadership, Nutrition, and College & Career Access. Each month, the group gathers at a local farm, ranch, or community garden where they learn about cutting edge conservation practices, innovative business models, and what it takes to keep our county healthy and thriving.

Survey

56% have a career involving agricultural or environmental sciences.
92% said that the FARMS Program changed their attitudes about food and agriculture.
85% have been involved with community/volunteer work.
92% say they learned to be open to new experiences.
89% are more comfortable interacting with new people.
88% are better when working as a team.

By successfully completing the program students may earn high school credit, place their skills on career and college applications, as well as gain the continued support of the greater state-wide FARMS Leadership network. This program was founded by the Center for Land-Based Learning in Winters, California.

This program is made possible by a generous anonymous donor and the following community partners:

                                                    

 

 

 

If you’re interested in sponsoring or donating to the Sonoma County FARMS Leadership program please see our donation page for more information or contact Christine Kuehn, Education and Communications Manager at ckuehn@sonomarcd.org.

If it wasn’t for FARMS Leadership, I wouldn’t have learned more about agriculture and received a scholarship so I could go to college.

Jose Reyes

Windsor Oaks Academy

The most impactful moment was when I was 20 feet in the air having other people support me from the ground. 

Samantha Thomas

Sonoma Valley High School