Thursday, December 8, 2022

New Tool Connects Prospective Interns to Montana Farms and Ranches

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This summer, get outdoors, get your hands dirty, and experience the tough
but rewarding work of a farmer as an intern on a Montana farm. In addition
to sweeping mountain views, big skies, and grizzly bears, the state of
Montana boasts a rich and varied agricultural landscape producing
everything from kale to cattle on farms and ranches ranging from a quarter
acre to a quarter of a million acres.

Farm Link Montana <http://farmlinkmontana.org/> is a new, free resource
that connects prospective interns with Montana farms looking for an extra
hand. The website features a map displaying farms with available
internships, information about each farm, and a common application form, so
that you only need to fill out a single application for all the farms you
are interested in. The site also includes resources to help you start your
own farm or ranch in Montana, along with tools to connect with mentors and
find land.

Current opportunities <http://farmlinkmontana.org/map/> include working
with everything from fire-roasted chiles to chickens and pigs to
large-scale grains.

Although each arrangement is different, farming and ranching internships
typically run for the duration of the growing season, from May to October.
Start dates vary, however, so get your applications in early to increase
your chances of success!

For more information and to apply for an internship, visit
FarmLinkMontana.org/Intern-Program/

 

Interested in hosting an Intern?


Any Montana farmer or rancher can participate in the internship program. While farmers are not required to be organic or marketing direct-to-consumer, our experience indicated that the majority of interns are seeking training on farms that utilize sustainable practices and/or direct marketing.

While working with interns can be rewarding and productive, these relationships are not without their difficulties. We have found that interns tend to have a different set of expectations than a typical paid employee, with much more of an interest on building knowledge and relationships. By participating in the Intern Link program, you are agreeing to be a mentor as well as a boss. This is an important responsibility that we hope you will take seriously, but we recognize that it isn’t easy. Being a good mentor in addition to being a good farmer is tough!

Having an intern will require that you take time to explain your procedures, demonstrate techniques, and correct mistakes. While some interns are happy to learn only from working by your side, most will also seek further education into why you make the decisions you make, how your values inform your way of farming, and more. It is essential to the success of this program that each host farmer possess a strong commitment to sharing his or her knowledge and experience with people who may not be efficient workers right off the bat. With time, an intern can become skilled and valuable to your operation. From the experienced hosts we’ve talked to, having effective, well-trained interns can be a game-changer, providing them with the assistance and support they need to scale up their farms, diversify their marketing, and even take a summer vacation once in a while! Here are a few best practices we captured during a workshop hosted in 2015:

  • Feed them well
  • Have fun and provide opportunities for recreation
  • Welcome them and engage them in your farm and in your family
  • Pay on time
  • Develop a solid agreement in advance of their arrival
  • Give them something to take ownership of, be it a bed of carrots or bringing in the sheep at night
  • Assign tasks that will give them a sense of accomplishment, i.e. design tasks so they can be accomplished within a reasonable and visible time frame
  • Give them a living space separate from your own (for your sake and theirs!)

CLICK HERE for more information

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