In the fall of 2022, the Colorado Department of Agriculture (CDA) announced the brand new NextGen Ag Leadership Program offering small grants to organizations advancing youth education and leadership in agriculture. Through that new program, CDA awarded $186,820 to 13 organizations across the state as part of the NextGen Ag Leadership Program.
“The organizations that received funding will help lead new people into careers in the food and agriculture industry and help prepare them to become the industry’s leaders of tomorrow and beyond,” said Tom Lipetzky, Director of the Markets Division at the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “CDA is committed to advancing our support of educational and leadership opportunities for future generations of agricultural producers, aspiring producers, and young people across the food and ag value chains.”
One of the projects receiving funding from the NextGen Leadership program used the funds to educate young agricultural leaders about federal policy.
“The NextGen Ag Leadership program grant allowed us to fly five young potato growers to Washington DC for the National Potato Council for a week,” said Jim Ehrlich, Executive Director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee (CPAC). “This helped them meet potato industry leadership from across the nation, key federal government leaders like Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack, and the Colorado congressional delegation for personal meetings on critical issues for our industry. They learned so much and are eager to learn more about future leadership roles they can fill.”
Agriculture is a critical industry providing everyone with food, fiber, and fuel. Agriculture employs farmers and ranchers and people trained in biosciences, nutrition, meat science, veterinary science, agronomy, soil health, engineering, food safety, technology, product development, marketing, and logistics.
The Fall 2022 awardees include organizations serving food and agricultural communities across our state. Projects marked with an asterisk will benefit underserved communities (which includes people in agriculture-related fields who are: beginning; women; minorities; from socially disadvantaged communities; veterans; or have limited resources).
- Guidestone*, Chaffee County: Support for AgriSummit conference, FTE and scholarships
- Mountain Roots*, Gunnison County: Beginning Farmer Training in Cold Climate Regenerative Agriculture
- San Luis Valley Local Food Coalition*, Alamosa County: Expanding Youth Farmer Education in San Luis Valley
- Colorado Potato Administrative Committee, Rio Grande County: Federal Policy 101 for Young Potato Growers, trip to Washington D.C.
- Corn Administrative Committee, Douglas County: Leadership Cultivation Initiative
- Douglas County High School*, Douglas County: Hydroponics equipment
- Quivira Coalition*, La Plata County: Leadership & Career Development for NextGen programs
- Living Earth Foundation, Boulder County: Advanced learning opportunities in regenerative agriculture for NextGen
- Fort Collins Conservation District*, Larimer County: Agricultural Check-out kits for K-12 students
- Colorado Foundation for Agriculture*, Statewide: NextGen issue of Colorado Reader
- Colorado FFA* in Elbert, Delta and Washington Counties: Scholarships
- Fort Lewis College*, La Plata County: Scholarships for Farmers in Training program
- Colorado State University*, Denver County: 2 scholarships for Masters in Agribusiness at CSU Spur
Starting this year, the NextGen Ag Leadership program will accept applications annually. The next application period will start later this spring with a May deadline and awards set to distribute funds with the start of the state fiscal year, July 1.