Master’s Thesis Proposal Defense - Kathleen Reed - May 11

Date: April 30, 2015
Location: Natural Resources RM 320A

Barriers and Constraints to Participants of Agricultural Training Programs in Michigan

Master’s Thesis Proposal Defense

Department of Community Sustainability

Kathleen Reed

Monday, May 11, 2015

10 a.m. – Natural Resources Room 320A


The average age of US farmers is rising, with farmers 65 and older continuing to be the fastest growing age group.  In 2012 the USDA reported that more than 31% of principal farm operators were age 65 or older. New farmers are expected to come from both farming families as well as non-farm families. Yet, for those who do not come from farming backgrounds, there is a need for practical training venues that will provide the skills and knowledge necessary for success. To meet this need, a number of non-traditional training programs have become a means to acquire practical knowledge and skills. In Michigan these programs include university affiliated farmer training programs, apprenticeships, incubator farms, and certificate programs. Despite the variety of these training programs available, we do not know how the participants view these programs, and in particular, how they assess the program’s ability to meet their needs as a student and as a prospective farmer. Using in-depth interviews and participant observation, this study looks to identify what is most attractive to participants of these programs, as well as the barriers and constraints of each program to participants. This study also seeks to understand how these barriers are taken into account by participants when choosing a program that fits their educational needs and future goals.


  • Kimberly Chung, chair
  • Shari Dann
  • Judith Barry, Center for Regional Food Systems