22 California Food Producer EDITION 2, 2018 The U.S. farm population is aging, with fewer young people entering farming as a profession. According to the U.S. Labor Department, the median age of a U.S. farmer age is 55.9 years with that age growing steadily for the last 30 years. Enter the Center for Land-Based Learning, a non-profit organization based in Winters, CA, dedicated to creating the next generation of farmers and teaching California’s youth about the importance of agriculture and natural resource conservation. “We want to expand student’s and people’s minds about all the jobs available in agriculture today,” according to Center Executive Director Mary Kimball. The Center has programs for both high school students and adults. Its three-pronged Farms Leadership Program is for high school students. The initial program involves monthly field days that provide students with hands-on experience working on farms, ranches, agricultural and food processing operations, research facilities, colleges and universities and other agricultural support businesses. “The program gets kids out of schools and onto farms, processing facilities, etc., and gives them that overall exposure,” Kimball said. The program is unique in that it brings together 30 students from four or five different schools, rather than all from one school. Kimball said this helps foster leadership, team-work and communication, important workforce skills that those in the agriculture and food industries say are sometimes lacking. “We hear employers say they can’t find good employees, they don’t know the basics, they don’t know how to work as a team,” Kimball said. “We are helping them learn those skills early on. If you’re issue is good employees that is somewhere we can help.” Center for Land-Based Learning Center for Land-Based Learning is a non-profit organization based in Winters, CA, dedicated to creating the next generation of farmers and teaching California’s youth about the importance of agriculture and natural resource conservation. Students learn about the California Olive Ranch’s operations.