Effects of an Agricultural Entrepreneurial Training Program with 40 Military Veteran Beginning Farmers

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Robert J. Fetsch Cheryl H. Grenwelge


Military veterans returning from war face challenges when re-entering civilian life. Our aim was to evaluate how effective an agricultural entrepreneurial training program (The Farm and Education Treatment Program) was to equip 90 returning military veterans to become self-employed in food and agriculture and secondarily to support health. While there are several agricultural entrepreneurial training programs available, there are few with the breadth, depth, and empirical outcomes of the present study. Our method used eight measures to assess pretest-posttest differences associated with becoming successfully employed in production agriculture. We assessed pretest-posttest changes before and after returning military veteran beginning farmers participated in our year-long, 188-200-hour Farm and Education Treatment Program. Our program trained two cohorts per year each with 15 participants over three years for a total of 90 participants. Especially during COVID-19 with virtual rather than in-person training, our drop-out rate was high. By the end of the three-year program, 40 military veteran beginning farmers completed the program and provided usable pretest-posttest data for a 44% response rate. Almost 88% (n =35/40) of participants were self-employed in agriculture either full-time (60%) or part-time (28%). When they began, two were full-time farmers/ranchers, one was in agricultural business, and one was a part-time farmer/rancher. Our participants’ greatest statistically significant improvements were on the Skills Assessment measure with Farming Skill Level, Crop Skill Level, and Livestock Skill Level subscales, on the Entrepreneurial Self Efficacy Marketing, Innovation, Financial Control, and Total subscales, and on the Independent Living and Working levels. These measures linked well with the overall program goal, intervention, and outcomes because the bulk of the program addressed these variables. There was no change in physical or psychological domains. We concluded that face-to-face, in-person teaching of the program was much preferred and more effective than virtual, remote teaching during COVID-19. Also eight measures with 671 items are far too many. Future researchers are encouraged to expand the training with practical, evidence-based behavioral health strategies that participants can use to improve their behavioral health and quality of life.

Keywords: agriculture, beginning farmer, depression, entrepreneurial, horticultural therapy, mental/behavioral health, military veterans, PTSD, self-employment, stress

Article Details

How to Cite
FETSCH, Robert J.; GRENWELGE, Cheryl H.. Effects of an Agricultural Entrepreneurial Training Program with 40 Military Veteran Beginning Farmers. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 10, oct. 2023. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <https://esmed.org/MRA/mra/article/view/4545>. Date accessed: 16 july 2024. doi: https://doi.org/10.18103/mra.v11i10.4545.
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