Montana State accepting applications for program focused on agritourism and sustainable agriculture
BOZEMAN — The College of Agriculture at Montana State University is accepting applications for a new leadership program focused on sustainable agriculture and agritourism.
The Montana Agritourism Fellows Program: Developing Leaders to Advance Sustainable Agritourism is designed to establish and train leaders who will communicate and promote sustainable agriculture topics to farmers, ranchers, professionals and communities. The inaugural cohort will consist of 12 fellows, and applications are due by Saturday, Oct. 1.
Agritourism refers to linking agricultural operations with tourism by allowing visitors to come to farms for either entertainment, recreation or education. Examples include organized tours, pick your own produce opportunities and more. Organizers hope the program will further promote agritourism for sustainable agriculture, a holistic approach to farming focused on farm profitability, land and natural resource stewardship, and improved quality of life for the farmer as well as the community.
“Some farmers are looking for different opportunities to diversify, and this is something they can do to utilize their current infrastructure and add more revenue to their farm,” said Shannon Arnold, professor in the Department of Agricultural and Technology Education in the MSU College of Agriculture.
Over the course of two years, fellows will attend four two-day seminars hosted at various sustainable agritourism operations across Montana. The first three seminars will be hosted in western, central and eastern Montana, respectively. The fourth will be in Bozeman, where fellows will apply what they’ve learned to plan and host a statewide agritourism conference to be held in 2025.
The seminars consist of workshops, tours and networking opportunities, with speakers covering different avenues of agritourism. Fellows will learn a variety of skills to help promote agritourism in areas of professional development, management, business, planning and communication/media relations.
Arnold said those who should consider applying are agricultural professionals; farmers, ranchers and growers; Extension and tourism industry professionals; economic and community specialists; agricultural educators; and government employees.
By completing the program, Arnold said, fellows will gain sustainable agriculture and agritourism knowledge and skills through exposure to industry issues, experiences and experts. They will also learn how to advocate for sustainable agritourism and conduct outreach events for industry promotion.
“Agritourism can bring economic development and opportunities to communities,” Arnold said. “If farmers can bring tourists to their farms, then those people are supporting those local communities and the local businesses in them.”
The fellows program is funded by a grant from the Western region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education institution, which is being hosted by Montana State University through 2023. The grant will fund lodging and program costs, though participants will cover their own travel expenses.
Full participation is expected, and attendance at all seminars is required. To apply, visit montana.qualtrics.com. For more information, contact Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org or 406-994-6663.
The program is funded by a grant through the western region of the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education organization. Arnold is the principal investigator for the grant. Co-investigators include Dustin Perry, associate professor in agricultural education; Kim Woodring, Toole County Extension agent; and Beth Shirley, assistant professor in technical communication.
–Montana State University
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