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AFT, MANRRS partner to create more ag opportunities for minority students and professionals

American Farmland Trust is partnering with Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences (MANRRS) to increase opportunities for minorities in agriculture, conservation, and related fields.  

David Haight, vice president for programs with American Farmland Trust, says he’s hopeful the partnership will help advance inclusion in agriculture and provide opportunities for those who have been underserved.

“A regenerative  agriculture movement needs to help address that and advance equity and equal-opportunity and account for this history. If we do that, we’re going to draw in diverse people that can bring different ways of connecting with the land and different cultures and life-experiences,” he says. “That is essential for us to be able to address the urgent crises we’re facing in this country, whether it be climate or many of the other big challenges we face as we’re recovering from COVID-19. We need whole society responses to these problems and we’re really excited about working with MANRRS to try to bring more sectors of our society together into this regenerative agriculture movement to do just that.”  

MANRRS Chief Operating Officer Ebony Webber says the partnership will expand access for its members in regenerative agriculture and other ag-related fields.

“Our hope through this is to provide our members more access to these types of programs where they can get the learning and development if they are wanting to become producers, farmers, and ranchers and where the opportunities lie,” she says. “And also, for those producers of color who are already in this space, how can they utilize some of the learnings to leverage some of the networking and resources that partners like American Farmland Trust can help bring to them that makes their business be more successful and help them to bring products to market more efficiently.”

She says there are challenges that minority students and professionals face when trying to enter careers in agriculture.

“Overcoming the stigma around agriculture is one of the major barriers to more people of color getting into this space and then also the lack of exposure and awareness to the career opportunities,” she says. “A lot of people who have not come from an agriculture background think about it in the single lens of farming, they don’t think of it in the tens of thousands of jobs that are associated with food, agirulcutre, natural resources and all the related careers tied to it. Our organization, through partnerships like the one with AFT, will help elevate and provide more opportunities to students of color to enter this space.”

Haight describes some of the opportunities AFT will provide…”we’re offering internships at the American Farmland Trust for MANRRS members staring in the summer of 2022 in our regional programs and our national initiatives. The second component is we’re going to be working with MANRRS to support some of their events, including a virtual national conference in April and a junior leadership event in November. Another piece is that we’re going to look for opportunities to help support our partners – land trusts, conservation organizations, and ag groups – and to facilitate deeper connections with MANRRS chapters and members.”

The partnership includes sharing resources, promoting internships, collaboration between staff, a shared effort to promote opportunities for MANRRS members in agriculture and conservation fields, and more.

MANRRS, an organization that promotes inclusion, diversity, empowerment, and advancement of those underrepresented in food, agriculture, and natural resources fields, has more than 2,000 members.

American Farmland Trust is a national organization that takes a holistic approach to agriculture, focusing on the land itself, the agricultural practices used on that land, and the farmers and ranchers who do the work.

Audio: David Haight

Audio: Ebony Webber

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