Workshop to cover ag employment, entrepreneurship for veterans

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Military veterans interested in establishing a career or small business in agriculture can learn more about their options and how to get started at a workshop in November.

"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.

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.

"Veterans need to be aware of all their potential employment options, especially in these difficult economic times," said Paul Jones, manager of Purdue's Breaking New Ground Resource Center, lead organization in the National and Indiana AgrAbility Projects. "Given that a large percentage of our veterans come from rural areas, agricultural careers should be a viable option for many of them."

Jones added that several features of agriculture careers make them a good fit for many veterans.

"Farming has a mission-driven focus, similar to the focus of the military – it is driven by the mission rather than the time clock," he said. "It is a natural transition and often a good fit.

"There is also the therapeutic aspect of agriculture – post-traumatic stress disorder is a real issue for many veterans, and a boxed-in job with a strict schedule and restricted space maybe isn't the best fit for some returning veterans. The therapeutic benefits of horticulture are well documented - especially for people who have been through a traumatic experience. It can be very beneficial."

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 the form at http://www.breakingnewground.info/vets 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.



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