Center for Land-Based Learning

Our mission is to inspire, educate, and cultivate future generations of farmers, agricultural leaders, and natural resource stewards.

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A joint program of the Center for Land-Based Learning and Nutrien, Inc. the Caring for our Watersheds program empowers students to imagine, develop, and create solutions in their local watersheds. Caring for our Watershed is both an environmental proposal contest and a project funding opportunity for high school students. The program promotes watershed awareness and stewardship, values student ideas, and offers support when turning theoretical ideas into action.

A finals event is held annually and is the culmination of the Caring for Our Watersheds Program. In attendance are 80-100 high school students, parents, teachers, and natural resource professionals from the Sacramento region. The top ten proposals have been selected for their innovative ideas and environmental impact. Students present their ideas to a panel of judges and win $300 to $1,000 for themselves, and a matching award for their school.

Program Successes
- Since 2011, over 2100 proposals have been submitted by 2,975 students
- 45 student projects have been implemented and over $130,000 has been awarded for student ideas and project implementation
The FARMS (Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management for Sustainability) Leadership Program growing the next generation of leaders in agriculture and natural resources.

FARMS Leadership is a transformational experience for high school students that provides out-of-the-classroom, hands-on experiences at working farms, ag-businesses (processing, scientific research, technology) and universities where students gain an understanding of California agriculture, food systems, and natural resources.

With 14 programs throughout California, FARMS Leadership serves more than 450 youth in 16 California counties. A FARMS Leadership class is comprised of a culturally and socially diverse group of students from multiple high schools, from urban, suburban, and rural communities.

Statewide, the program engages more than 150 industry and educational partners who ensure that students gain knowledge and experiences on the most current trends in the agriculture industry and act as mentors for youth who want to pursue careers in agriculture and environmental sciences.

This multi-year program provides awareness of the agriculture industry, develops leadership and job skills, and support in job shadow and internship placement for participants. Our goal is to help fill the increasing demand for skilled workers in the agriculture industry by allowing youth to experience jobs in the industry first hand. In 2017, four students were selected for paid internships with industry partners in the Fresno region. Our goal for 2018 is to place eight students in paid internships.

When participants complete the program, they have an increased understanding of the role agriculture and related industries play in local, state, nation, and world economies, increased awareness of post-secondary education opportunities, and receive ongoing personalized college and career mentoring.

Program Successes
FARMS Leadership empowers students to think and act differently; these students, who will soon be making critical decisions about environmental, social and economic issues, will be better prepared to make these decisions as a result of their participation in FARMS Leadership.

FARMS Leadership students learn to:
- Be open and responsive to new ideas and diverse perspectives
- Work collaboratively in teams
- Ask appropriate questions to develop new ideas and effective solutions to problems
- Understand and respond to the complexity of issues affecting agriculture and the environment

Results of the FARMS Leadership Alumni 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

The SLEWS (Student and Landowner Education and Watershed Stewardship) Program engages high school students in real habitat restoration projects that enhance science learning, develop leadership skills, and make a difference on the land. Participating high school science classes adopt SLEWS restoration projects on farms, ranches, and other natural areas throughout the Central Valley for the length of the school year. Over the course of multiple visits, students plant oaks and other native species, build and install bird boxes, remove invasive plants and install irrigation systems, all to increase the biological diversity and improve the health of the land. Because we partner with restoration professionals SLEWS projects have a real and lasting impact on the land. SLEWS field days also offer young people the opportunity to practice science, leadership and communication skills as they work together to improve the health of their own communities.
Program Successes
- 82% of (alumni) survey respondents stated that the SLEWS Program influenced their "attitudes and daily choices about food, agriculture, the environment, and/or natural resources"
- The SLEWS Program provides benefits to the environment now, while investing in the lives of young people for the future. Since 2001, more than 6,000 high school students have participated in hands-on habitat restoration and science exploration through full-day SLEWS field trips.
- The SLEWS Program supports a diverse population of students entering college and careers in environmental science and natural resources, greater interest and engagement in science and service, and a greater appreciation for the natural world; at the same time, the on-the-ground habitat restoration results are significant.
- Each year, SLEWS students plant around 4,600 native trees and shrubs, 23,000 native grasses, and install 50 wildlife structures such as bird nest boxes.
- A recent external evaluation of the program showed that SLEWS positively impacted the growth and development of participants over time.
- Of the alumni surveyed, 89% reported that SLEWS helped them "gain experience in something I would not otherwise have the opportunity to do."
- Looking at long term impact, more than half reported that SLEWS "influenced my higher education/career path."
- Many alumni reported making changes in their daily choices as a result of their participation in SLEWS.
The goal of the California Farm Academy is to encourage and support a new generation of farmers establish sustainable, viable and locally based farm enterprises. The Farm Academy trains skilled farm managers and employees for the farm sector in California. The California Farm Academy fills a critical industry need to recruit, train and support new and replacement farmers in an era when the average age of farmers and ranchers is nearing 60 years old.

The California Farm Academy is comprised of three programs:
Beginning Farmer Training Program: is a seven-month intensive, yet flexible program that provides theoretical and hands-on experience for aspiring farmers. It imparts beginning farmers with the core knowledge and skills they need to succeed as agricultural entrepreneurs. From greenhouse to the field, classroom to restaurant, about 20 adult students per year learn how to grow and sell their product and how to set up and run a farm business. The students meet and build a network of over forty different farmers and agriculture and natural resource professionals, visit 15-20 working farms and ranches, and at the same time take care of an acre of diverse crops at our farm in Winters. In addition, each participant conducts an independent study project and creates their own farm business plan. Upon graduation, the new farmers receive continued mentoring and support, including the option of applying to the farm business incubator.

Farm and Ranch Manager Apprenticeship Program:
Intended for those interested in furthering their career in agriculture. As a registered Apprenticeship program (approved by Division of Apprenticeship Standards, January 2018), it requires completion of 3000 hours of on-the-job training and 220 hours of coursework. Hands-on training is a critical part of the apprenticeship. Apprentices will select a farm that best fits their farming goals from a diverse set of farms in the region, with a wide range of crops, enterprises, scale and farming methods.

Farm Business Incubator:
The incubator program provides access to land, shared infrastructure, and equipment, irrigation and mentorships for beginning farmers who are ready to start their farm enterprises. Farmers as lease anywhere from 0.25 to 2 acres in the programs three locations - Winters, Davis and West Sacramento. The four to five-year tenure and the low-risk environment that this program provides help participants to refine their production techniques, establish markets and formulate their business plans. This ensures that they are better equipped and prepared when they start their own farm enterprises.

Our Incubator Farm Sites Include:
West Sacramento Urban Farm
- The West Sacramento Urban Farm Program provides space, infrastructure and a supportive boost to small-scale farmers looking to get started in an urban environment. In partnership with the City of West Sacramento, vacant lots owned both publicly and privately, are converted into urban farm sites where graduates of the California Farm Academy training and apprentice program, as well as local residents with proven farming skills, can start farming. There are 7.5 acres at five sites around the city available to beginning farmers.

Cannery Farm
- A model for the region and state, the Cannery Farm is the first farm-to-fork new home community in the Sacramento region and in California. In partnership with the City of Davis and the New Home Company, Land-Based Learning is able to provide beginning farmers with 3.5 acres of land, on which to begin growing. This site includes a 1 acre orchard.

Farm on Putah Creek
- Five acres are available at this rural site in Winters, CA, home of the Center for Land-Based Learning.
Program Successes
- To date, 111 beginning farmers have participated in the California Farm Academy training program and over 75% of graduates are actively pursuing agricultural careers
- Students participate in the growing, cultivation and harvest of a variety of crops from a shared 1-acre parcel used during the training program
- 95% of this food is typically donated to the Yolo Food Bank's Kids Farmers Market program and to Elderly Nutrition
- Sixteen graduates farm their own land and six farm family land
- Thirteen farmers have participated in the California Farm Academy incubator program, leasing a combined eight acres and selling through farmers markets, food co-ops, restaurants, grocery stores and weekly farm box subscription programs

The Farm and Ranch Manager Apprenticeship was approved as a registered apprenticeship by the Division of Apprenticeship Standards in January 2018. Three apprentices participated in a pilot program in 2017, working on two area farms.
This guided internship program provides paid work experience in agriculture, sustainable energy, and environmental science fields, employment and life skills training, college mentoring and individualized student support. Paid work and community service activities include working at local farms and habitat restoration projects, collecting data for a citizen science research project with a UC Davis scientist, and presenting activities at public outreach events like the Farm-to-Fork festival and farmers markets.

Interns gain experience and skills to help them succeed at future employment. College mentoring activities include college and financial aid application support and visits to regional universities where they connect with other first-generation and low-income college students. Interns receive individualized help with the many steps involved in getting to college, such as transportation to orientation and assistance getting supplies for their dorm room. Interns continue to receive support from Land-Based Learning staff and mentors as they progress through college, such as help with scholarship applications, summer job referrals and interview preparation.
Program Successes
35 students enrolled in 2017

- 100% of high school juniors and seniors participating since 2012 received college mentoring from program staff and entered college or a jobs training program upon graduation

You can find alumni enrolled or graduated from:
- Cal Poly SLO
- Humboldt State
- Sonoma State
- Chico State
- Sac State
- Lincoln University
- UC Davis
- UC Santa Cruz
- American River College
- Job Corps
- UCSF School of Nursing
- Indiana University School of Public Health
- UC Santa Barbara
- Southern Oregon University

"The Growing Green Internship has allowed me to explore various opportunities involving agriculture and the environment, and visit several colleges. One of the many great experiences I had during the internship was participating in a UC Davis ecology research project where I monitored the interactions between monarch butterflies and milkweed plants. Being able to contribute to an active scientific study inspired my interest in the field of science. When I settle on a future career it will be heavily influenced by this experience." Edward, Growing Green Intern 2017