CULTIVATING AND MENTORING YOUTH AS FUTURE FARMERS
“The world needs young people proactively contributing to innovative and environmentally and economically sustainable agricultural development,” states YPARD, an international movement by Young Professionals for Young Professionals for Agricultural and Rural Development. YPARD notes that for humanity to adapt to the impacts of climate change, rapid urbanization and unpredictable weather events on agriculture and the environment, we need to empower and nurture the next generation of farmers and entrepreneurs. YPARD is a global networking platform for Young Professionals to create youth movement in agricultural development.
The origin of USDA’s Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program (BFRDP) in the United States is easily traced to the greying American farmer. Reasons for the declining and greying farm population in the United States are many and varied. For new and minority farmers, the path to a successful farming career is fraught with even greater challenges, such as struggling to find financing to purchase land, lack of educational and technical assistance opportunities, and confronting historical racial inequities. The Institute believes that mentoring, especially for underserved minority youth and audiences, is also a missing link in the agricultural sector, which is why the Institute offers mentoring, outreach training, and technical assistance opportunities to minority and underserved individuals across in metro and non-metro areas.
PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
OUTREACH TRAINING AND TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE
A key overarching goal by the Institute is to disseminate information, deliver effective outreach, and conducting technical assistance to encourage and assist inner-city youth and socially disadvantaged audiences to own and operate farms and ranches; and to provide information on loan application and farmer programs and services. The aim to increase producer participation in programs and services operated and administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Training, education and technical assistance are delivered through training workshops, seminars, group meeting, farm field days, on-farm demonstrations and other experiential learning activities , farmer-to-farmer training and mentoring, fact sheets, newsletters and newspapers, television, online services including email and social media communication, and farm/home visits. As projects are implemented, an increase in program participation, information dissemination, applications and awards for loans for farm ownership, farm operation, equipment, housing, and youth-operated businesses are some of the expected outcomes. Other expected outcomes include increase in farm numbers, farm operating capacity, and an increase in incomes and overall profitability by minority-owned farms and rural businesses.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AND MARKETING STRATEGY CONSULTING
Every business needs a plan, a strategy that defines the vision, goals and how these goals will be reached. Whether it’s a new startup or existing business, a simple business strategy can take a business to the next level. A business strategy does not have to be complicated. Some business plans can fit on two or three pages. The Institute advises aspiring or existing business owners not to let business planning and strategy fall by the wayside. Don’t plan to fail or fail to plan for your business. Rather, we encourage business owners or rural entrepreneurs to plan today and reap the benefits tomorrow and for years to come. In short, call us at the Institute for assistance to (1) clarify the business vision, goals and mission statement; (2) explore right business model for the business; (3) craft long-term and short-term goals; (4) business start-ups and feasibility studies; (5) develop a business plan and financial statements; (6) set revenue and expense model (recordkeeping systems); (7) scope out the competition (marketing plan); and (8) brainstorm on new products and services (business expansion and scaling).
If you have business problems, the Institute has business solutions for you!
STUDENT TUTORING PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
The Institute’s tutorial services are provided year-round through educational assistance with homework assistance and skill building opportunities in economics, agribusiness, mathematics, and science activities to encourage and increase interest and skill levels in these areas; and to encourage life skills development and career exploration to encourage students to begin thinking about what career path would best suit their interests and abilities. Whether we are dealing with students, inner-city youth or agricultural audiences, we employ hands-on or experiential learning activities, team building exercises, role-plays, and peer-to-peer mentoring to encourage positive interaction, promote social and learning skills development, and to help increase self-esteem, awareness, personal confidence, and networking.
Services are provided by a team of highly qualified and motivated individuals who have excelled in their areas of expertise and who are trained to help students excel and support small businesses succeed. Volunteers, educators, tutors, mentors, and business consultants will not do a student’s homework nor run client’s business for them but will show them how to be their own best resource. They will help and show students and clients how to be successful. The Institute’s business consulting services include, but are not limited to, developing and using a business plan, constructing and interpreting financial statements, grant writing, loan applications, conducting feasibility studies, etc. as outlined later in this brochure
The Institute houses capability and capacity to deliver STEM instruction and activities to expose students (secondary and postsecondary) to a wide array of careers that utilize STEM subject matters. With growing workforce sectors in STEM-related fields, organizations such as the Rural South Institute are focused on increasing STEM-related skills and content because it is a fact that student academic performance in science and math lags behind the pace of growing sectors in STEM, particularly for students of color in underserved and economically depressed communities.
BUSINESS AND STUDENT MENTORING SERVICES
Mentoring is a developmental partnership through which one person shares knowledge, skills, information and perspective to foster the personal, academic and professional growth of someone else. We all have a need for insight that is outside of our normal life and educational experience. The power of mentoring is that it creates a one-of-a-kind opportunity for collaboration, goal achievement and problem-solving.
A mentor facilitates personal, academic and professional growth in an individual by sharing the knowledge and insights that have been learned through the years. A mentor is a Teacher -- shares knowledge and experience; a Problem Solver -- refers Protégés to resources and offer options; a Motivator – when a Protégé is facing challenges, for example, and this is usually done through encouragement, support, and incentives; a Coach -- helps Protégés to overcome performance difficulties through positive feedback (reinforce behavior) and constructive feedback (change behavior); and a Guide -- helps Protégés set realistic goals that are said to be SMART [Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound]. “If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know how to get there.”
The Institute’s mentoring services are designed to provide year-round mentoring and learning opportunities for all participants (students, inner-city youth, farmers and rural entrepreneurs) to encourage and build trusting relationships. The Institute’s mission for mentoring and tutoring services is to help secondary and post-secondary students appreciate the beauty of clear writing and effective communication, and the power of serious and challenging mathematics, statistics and economic reasoning. We strive to make the student who never cared about math, statistics, agribusiness and economics love the subject and for those who have always loved math statistics or economics to love the subject even more. An important aspect of the Institute’s mentoring program is to introduce youth and rural residents to agriculture as a viable life-long career. Overall, mentoring activities help bring underserved youth, students, farmers and entrepreneurs together with caring individuals who provide academic and non-academic guidance, life-learning support, and encouragement aimed at developing participant's competence in order to succeed in school, farming or small business development.
The Institute provides mentoring services in three key areas of (1) Writing Assistance involving free and low-cost one-on-one consulting on a wide variety of academic and creative writing projects. The Institute assists students at every stage of the writing process from project planning and brainstorming to identifying key concepts, drafting, writing from research, revising, documenting and citing sources, and editing strategies; (2) Mathematics and Statistics Tutoring and Mentoring Assistance for secondary and post-secondary students who have questions related to statistics or pre-calculus courses; and (3) Economics, Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness Tutoring Assistance, offering tutoring and mentoring assistance for secondary and post-secondary students in any area of agribusiness and economics (macro and microeconomics).