Start2farm, a service of USDA’s National Agricultural Library, is an online database (start2farm.gov) that specializes in providing information on educational programs available for beginning farmers.

“We’re an information service; our job is to find all the training programs that exist and get them listed in our database,” says Jorie Porter of Start2farm. “There are several programs that range from classes, to daylong workshops, to apprenticeships. Even community-based and non-profit groups offer programs to help people get involved in agriculture, and they’re all listed on our website. Anyone can search our site by zip code, state, or area of interest, and get results on what’s available to help educate them.”

The National Young Farmers Coalition (NYFC) is a non-profit group that supports young and beginning farmers and ranchers across the county. The group’s focus includes working on national policy in addition to providing online resources that include:

• The website farmhack.net is intended to be a technical information-sharing site. For producers encountering a technical problem with machinery, or for those working on an invention, farmhack.net is a resource for sharing designs, posting innovations and learning how to fix farm and ranch-related technical problems, says Wes Hannah, NYFC organizer.

• Another area of emphasis is developing a network of young and beginning farmers and ranchers across the U.S. via the website, youngfarmers.org. Here people can access a database of programs in their area that focus on ag education, as well as meet other producers.

“We are contacted regularly by young people who farm or ranch and were unaware there were other young people in the same situation in their area,” Hannah says of the success of the NYFC website’s network-building component. 

Heather Hamilton is a rancher and freelance writer based in Lance Creek, WY.