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A new program in Fayetteville gives soldiers leaving active duty a chance to pursue a future in farming

Students in "Soldiers to Agriculture" pose for picture by a garden.
Courtesy of Liz Joseph
Students in the "Soldiers to Agriculture" program, which North Carolina State University and NC A&T State University offer to service members transitioning out of active duty, pose for picture by a garden.

The North Carolina Cooperative Extension is hosting a program aimed at assisting soldiers transitioning into careers in agriculture after serving on active duty.

The "Soldiers to Agriculture" program is a five-week long course in Cumberland County. Service members can join the program within 180 days of their separation date from the Army.

The program is offered through a partnership between North Carolina State University and NC A&T State University. Liz Joseph, who’s leading the effort, said it's the only one of its kind that has a partnership with Fort Liberty, formerly known as Fort Bragg, to train service members.

“We spend about three weeks in our classroom and traveling to area farms,” Joseph said. “And then the last two weeks, we set these folks up with on-farm internships, so they can get more hands-on and more knowledge.”

Some classes include agriculture law, beekeeping and livestock population.

“The program is critical because there’s not enough people replacing older farmers,” Joseph said. “The average age of our farmer is about 59-years-old. It used to be [that] the average age was around 57 and each year, it seems to increase. And the younger generation doesn't seem to want to take over farming.”

The “Soldiers to Agriculture” sessions start next week on Tuesday, Jan. 16.

Sharryse Piggott is WUNC’s PM Reporter.
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