Youth Leaders in Agriculture
The Youth Leadership in Agriculture (YLA) is a career exploration and mentoring initiative to teach local high school junior and seniors skills in farming, leadership, and entrepreneurship. YLA benefits students through teaching, mentorship, and hands-on learning, as well as the broader community through greater food access, education, and nutrition.
Launched in 2021 in partnership with the Staunton High School Counseling Department and Staunton City Schools, this program is open to all local high school students in the summer. Spring and fall spots are reserved for Staunton High School students.
Our vision is to build a career pathway for traditionally underserved youth into the local food economy, complete with mentorship, leadership skill-building, hands-on farming experiences, and justice-oriented instruction.
Career Exploration & Mentorship
Farming & Sustainable Agriculture
Personal & Community Health
Spring and Fall: During the school year, the YLA program functions like a hands-on, outdoor academic class, held on the farm during Staunton High School’s fourth block Mentorship elective class until 5:00pm, Tuesday through Thursday, led by the Project GROWS Director of Education and education team.
Summer: In June and July, the YLA program is a paid part-time farm job for rising (or recently graduated) seniors from all local high schools.
Youth Leaders learn about sustainable agriculture, farming methods, nutrition, and local biodiversity, hear from guest speakers like birders, soil scientists, entomologists, and beekeepers, and participate in field trips to other farms in the area. Most importantly, Youth Leaders function as a key part of our dynamic farm crew as we plant, tend, harvest, and then package and prepare produce for wholesale distribution and our Mobile Markets. Youth Leaders learn about the value of hard work in an outdoor setting alongside a group of peers and seasoned outdoor educators.
Applications will be open in 2024. Sign up to our monthly newsletter to be the first to receive news about YLA applications.
For more information, please contact Nichole Barrows, Director of Education.