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Scholarships Available for Oklahoma Beginning Farmers

If you've been farming or ranching for less than ten years, the Kerr Center has got a deal for you: a year-long course in sustainable farming and ranching, with tuition and materials covered by scholarship.

Applications for the Oklahoma Beginning Farmer and Rancher program are due October 21.  Space is limited, and early application is strongly encouraged.

The program's purpose is to assist "beginning" farmers and ranchers with training, resources, and mentoring.  It provides an in-depth, year-long training course at the Kerr Center, with instruction in business and whole-farm planning.  Participants choose either a livestock or horticulture track.

Eligible "beginning" farmers and ranchers are those have been operating a farm or ranch enterprise for ten years or less, and have gross annual farm income of less than $150,000.

Men and women completely new to agriculture can participate, along with those who already have a farm or ranch, but seek further training. The program is open to all age groups, including retirees from other professions.

Preference will be given to applicants from Oklahoma, but those in nearby states are eligible.

The course consists of six all-day Saturday training sessions at the Kerr Center's Stewardship Farm and Ranch near Poteau. Mornings will be focused on classroom instruction, while afternoons will be outside with a focus on hands-on skills.

The program begins with a meeting on November 12.  After a break for the holidays, it will resume in February, with one session every other month until the final session in October 2012.

At the end of the course, participants will have a plan to establish or improve existing farm enterprises, and have the resources to move forward and be successful.

For more information and application forms, visit http://www.kerrcenter.com/beginning-farmer/index.html.

Successful applicants will be notified by October 28.

The Kerr Center's partners in the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Program include the Oklahoma Farmers and Ranchers Association (OFRA), the Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative (MFSI), the Rural Smallholders Association (RSA), and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service.

The program is supported by a grant from USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).