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Foundation Sows Seeds Of Regenerative Agriculture In Students

Students in North Carolina now have the opportunity to participate in a two-day immersive agriculture seminar and receive hands-on training in the latest agriculture methods thanks to the Juneberry Education Foundation. Established in 2022, the nonprofit’s new Piedmont Agriculture Scholars Program teaches high schoolers about regenerative farming.

Agriculture is North Carolina’s top industry, and agricultural jobs make up one in six positions in the Tar Heel State. However, the average age of a person working in agriculture is 58. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 96% of North Carolina farms are family-operated. 

In addition, the state is rapidly losing farmland to new development, making it even harder for younger generations to find work on farms. According to the Juneberry Education Foundation, From 2001 to 2016, more than 731,000 acres of agricultural land were lost to non-agricultural development. 

All of those factors limit the amount of hands-on training those interested in farming can find. The Piedmont Agriculture Scholars Program is designed to fill that void.

Video Courtesy Juneberry Ridge

“If we fail to inspire young farmers today, it’s only a matter of time before we lose our farmland along with high-quality local food production right here in North Carolina,” Suzanne Durkee,  Juneberry Education Foundation president, told the Richmond County Daily Journal. “So, how can we inspire the next generation? Our answer is to provide the farmers of tomorrow with the best possible education in regenerative farming.”

“We designed the Piedmont Agricultural Scholars Program as a call out to our brightest young minds, to bring them out to our living classroom, to show them how we farm, and invite them to envision a brighter future for food production with us,” she continued.

The new program expands the mission of the Juneberry Education Foundation, which is to inspire current and future farmers to reimagine the agricultural landscape in North Carolina.

Photo Courtesy Juneberry Education Foundation 

Accepted students are introduced to all areas of regenerative agriculture at Juneberry Ridge, a 750-acre active farm in Norwood, North Carolina. Students attend lectures and have the opportunity to truly find out what it’s like to work with the land. Hands-on learning experiences such as soil health, water management, wildlife, and farm-to-table hospitality are a part of the program.

Students are taught how to improve soil health and biodiversity so farmers can maintain and revitalize entire ecosystems while feeding the community. The program wants young growers to understand the regenerative path for local food production to ensure that the land and farmers will thrive on it for future generations.

Photo Courtesy Juneberry Education Foundation

Juniors and seniors enrolled in high school with at least a 3.0 GPA in North Carolina who have an interest in the agricultural industry must be nominated by a teacher to gain access to the program. Nominations are open until Feb. 9, 2024, and applications must be completed by March 1, 2024. 

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