(HASTINGS, Neb.) – The registration deadline is approaching for Answering the Call, a one-day conference for military veterans who are farming or who are interested in farming, on Saturday, March 24, at the Hall Student Union on the campus of Central Community College, 550 Technical Blvd., Hastings, Nebraska.
The event is free; registration is required by March 16. Answering the Call is sponsored by Center for Rural Affairs and Legal Aid of Nebraska.
“The conference is an opportunity for veterans to connect with fellow former service members,” said Cora Fox, policy program associate at Center for Rural Affairs. “Veterans can see firsthand how other veterans have translated the duty and drive of military life into a second career on the farm.”
The day will begin at 9 AM with networking and an opportunity to connect with agriculture and veterans services organizations. Nebraska Sens. Sue Crawford, of Bellevue, and Tom Brewer, of Gordon, will open the conference, followed by a presentation by Brad Dirksen, of the Nebraska Department of Education, on veteran on-the-job training and apprenticeship opportunities.
Attendees may then attend a session on farm and ranch diversification. Speaking will be Lt. Col. Anthony and Mariel Barreras of Barreras Family Farm, Tyler Peters of Farm Credit Services, and Krista Dittman of the Center for Rural Affairs Advisory Board.
Following lunch, attendees will be able to attend panel sessions. Agritourism and ecotourism will be the topics of conversation with Karen Kollars and Alex Duryea, of the Nebraska Tourism Commission. Brent Hoops, an Army veteran and owner of Good Earth Farms, Shanda Spurgeon of the Natural Resource Conservation Service, and Greg Reisdorff of the Farm Services Agency will host a panel discussion on conversation practices and operation diversification. The conference will conclude with round table discussions and networking.
“There is a camaraderie in agriculture that is similar to life in military service,” Fox said. “This conference seeks to foster the network of veterans in farming and ranching and encourage them to share experiences and ideas as they grow and diversify their operations.”
Spots are filling quickly. Registration is open to residents of any state. For more information and to register, call 402-687-2100 ext. 1012 or visit www.cfra.org/AnsweringTheCall.
Additional support for Answering the Call is provided by the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Farm Credit Services of America Working Here Fund, Nebraska Tourism Commission, and Central Community College Veterans and Military Resource Center.