University of Vermont

Grow with us

The Youth Agriculture Project helps young people build life and job skills through hands-on learning about food, nutrition, and agriculture.

Youth Agriculture Project

On-Farm Programs

The Youth Agriculture Project's educational farm helps a neighborhood of existing programs to share resources, streamline planning, and connect students with their food system. Together, we offer year-round, garden-based opportunities for kids and older youth to build life skills.

School groups help with spring planting and fall harvest through the Grow A Row program, and participants in the summer Growing Skills program look after the crops during the height of the growing season.


Growing Skills (GS)
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The Youth Agriculture Project's longest-running program is Growing Skills, an eight-week, part-time, on-the-job training program for young adults ages 16-21. Over the course of the summer, participants use agriculture as a vehicle to develop transferable employment skills like teamwork, customer service, event planning, direct sales, and public speaking.

Teens employed in the summer "Growing Skills" program grow, market, and donate organic produce as a team. They also participate in skill-building workshops, visit a variety of local farms, engage in community service, and mentor younger children in garden and kitchen activities.

For many, this is their first job, and we offer a paid work experience with lots of built-in time and attention to basic job skills such as team work and communication. Youth crews take increasing responsibility for the quality of their work over the course of the summer. Along with job skills, participants build emotional resilience, self-management skills, and genuine, lasting connections with each other and the community.

2013 Growing Skills program information
  • Application deadline: Wednesday, May 15th
  • First day: Tuesday, July 2nd
  • Last day: Friday, August 23rd
  • Work hours: 8:30 am – 3:15 pm
  • Work days: Tues-Wed-Thurs. (except for Tues-Wed-Fri. the first week and Tues-Wed-Thurs-Fri. the last week)
  • Weekly take-home pay after taxes: about $150

A Note on Eligibility: A Growing Skills crew intentionally includes youth with a diversity of skills and life situations, but most of the youth wages will be supported by a grant from the Vermont Department of Labor (VDOL). To qualify for the VDOL funding, youth MUST be (a) a low-income individual and (b) fit one or more of the following categories: School dropout; Homeless, runaway, or foster child; Pregnant or parenting; and/or Offender or child of an incarcerated parent.

Any youth who may qualify should contact our local Vermont Department of Labor case manager as soon as possible to determine eligibility: Morgan Sailer-Carlisle at or CELL (802) 885-1422, OFFICE (802) 356-0427.

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During the summer, Growing Skills youth crew members are trained to work directly with children 6-12 years old, mentoring them in the field and the kitchen. Each "Big" gets a turn to lead games with their "Littles," teach gardening skills, and harvest and prepare healthy snacks from fresh produce.

Grow A Row
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"Grow a Row" brings K-12 classes to UVM Extension's educational farm site in Brattleboro. School groups can choose crops, help with spring planting and fall harvest, and generally use their "growing classroom" as best works for each teacher. Teachers can connect classroom lessons with real work that goes into planting, cultivating, and harvesting one or more crops of their choosing.

The field is a pedagogical and physical resource for in-depth, hands-on learning projects that engage students with tangible, meaningful results and opportunities to contribute. Kids often leave the farm with seedlings or fresh vegetables in hand, and teachers report that some of their most restless or disengaged students are among the most active participants during farm visits.

Visiting classes in 2012 included 8th graders who grew potatoes for a feast and for donation; a 1st-3rd grade special-needs classroom growing potatoes, beets, onions, and squash for a school harvest banquet as they explored plant life cycles, and students from the Career Center who grew sweet potatoes for their school food service program.

Last modified December 13 2013 11:42 AM