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Ag Careers for Veterans the Focus of Upcoming Workshop

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Many of this country’s returning military men and women are looking for career possibilities, and the Indiana and National AgrAbility Projects, Purdue Department of Agronomy and military organizations are collaborating on a workshop for those willing to take a look at agriculture. Paul Jones, manager of Purdue’s Breaking New Ground Resource Center, says the Veterans and Agriculture workshop in early November is targeted at professionals who work with veterans as well as the veterans themselves.

“We know that a large percentage of our military and therefore our returning veterans come from rural areas, so we think agriculture is a viable option for employment,” he told HAT. “We know that the unemployment rate for younger returning veterans is significantly above the national average, so that’s another reason why we think agriculture might be a good option. In addition, they have a large percentage of disabilities among returning veterans and that’s why AgrAbility is particularly interested.”

The workshop will cover agricultural employment and entrepreneurship options from traditional row crop farming to the various niche alternatives.

“The locally grown foods movement is really expanding these days,” Jones explained, “so one of the things we’re looking at is specialty crops, niche markets, organic produce, that type of thing and market. There are things like agritourism that are a viable means of producing income, so all those things would be good options we believe.”

Click play to hear the full HAT interview with Jones:[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/10/Paul-Jones-Vets-and-Ag-workshop1.mp3|titles=Paul Jones Vets and Ag workshop]

The first day of the workshop will include sessions on business planning and funding, sustainable and organic farming, small farm marketing, agritourism, and Veterans Administration and Vocational Rehabilitation benefits. Sessions on such topics as post-traumatic stress disorder, veterans’ reintegration issues, and horticulture therapy will also benefit veterans and professionals who work with veterans.

Speakers will include Michael O’Gorman, executive director of the Farmer Veteran Coalition; Sandra Lane, horticulture therapy expert from the Veterans Administration; and several Purdue Extension agriculture educators.

The second day will include sessions at the Purdue Agronomy and Animal Sciences farms, as well as tours of several organic/all-natural farms in the area.[audio:https://www.hoosieragtoday.com//wp-content/uploads//2012/10/Veterans-in-Ag-workshop.mp3|titles=Veterans in Ag workshop]

“Veterans and Agriculture: Opportunities for Employment, Entrepreneurship, and Enrichment” will be held Nov. 7-8 at the Beck Agricultural Center, 4540 U.S. 52 West, West Lafayette. Registration is $125 for both days and $95 for one day. The fees are waived for veterans who are not attending as representatives of an organization or business. Participants can register by downloading this form and mailing it to the Breaking New Ground office.

For more information or to register, contact Breaking New Ground at 1-800-825-4264 or agrability@agrability.org.

The workshop is sponsored by the Indiana and National AgrAbility Projects, the Military Family Research Institute at Purdue, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the Purdue University Student Veteran Organization and the Purdue Department of Agronomy.