Northeast Iowa dairy farmers seek aspiring farmers for on-farm training opportunity

For Release: March 22, 2017

Decorah & Waukon, Iowa – Daniel Beard of Canoe Creek Dairy and Francis Blake of Blake Family Organic Farm are hoping their farms can serve as a training ground for an aspiring farmer during the 2017 growing season.

Daniel and Francis are among 14 experienced farmers from around the state who have committed to hire an employee through the Practical Farmers of Iowa Labor4Learning program. Along with a paid on-farm job, they’ll provide the candidate with additional training in topics essential to be a successful farmer. Both farmers were approved to serve as trainers by a committee of Practical Farmers of Iowa members.

Daniel and Bonnie Beard own and operate Canoe Creek Dairy near Decorah, where they are certified organic with a dairy, and raise beef cattle, pasture, hay, small grains, corn, sweet corn, maple syrup and timber. Responsibilities for their full-time job opening include milking, calf feeding, moving cows to paddocks, moving and building fence, and haying, among other things.

Similarly, Francis Blake of the Waukon area owns and operates Blake Family Organic Farm that includes a dairy, beef cows and laying hens. Francis also grows corn, soybeans, hay and small grains, all certified organic. His farm’s job opening is for up to 40 hours a week, and responsibilities include help with milking and other dairy activities, moving cattle, packing eggs and help with haying and weeding.

Full job details, dates and information on how to contact the Beards or Blakes to apply can be found at https://www.practicalfarmers.org/labor4learning. To qualify as a trainee, the applicant must have a strong desire to learn; apply to and be hired by a trainer farm; and become a member of Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Having sufficient on-farm work experience is vital to the success of new farmers just starting on their own. Most on-farm employment opportunities, however, are limited in scope and don’t expose employees to the full range of skills needed to successfully run a farm business.

Practical Farmers’ Labor4Learning program – now entering its fifth year – helps fill this need by connecting aspiring farmers seeking paid on-farm training with experienced farmers looking for eager employees, and by emphasizing additional training on topics such as finances, marketing and other skills vital to running a farm business.

The program has benefits for both parties: Experienced farmers find high quality, motivated workers; aspiring farmers find employment on a reputable farm, gain training beyond their wage-earning activities and build a network of beginning and experienced farmers through Practical Farmers of Iowa.

Job opportunities through the program are found across the state and encompass a diversity of enterprises, such as greenhouse production, livestock, dairies, produce and row crops. Each job in the program varies in duration, hours, work activities, and compensation. The full list of openings is available at https://www.practicalfarmers.org/labor4learning.


Practical Farmers of Iowa strengthens farms and communities through farmer-led investigation and information-sharing. Our values include: welcoming everyone; creativity, collaboration and community; viable farms now and for future generations; and stewardship and ecology. Founded in 1985, farmers in our network raise corn, soybeans, livestock, hay, fruits and vegetables, and more. To learn more, visit https://www.practicalfarmers.org.

Contact: Steve Carlson | Beginning Farmer and Program Associate | Practical Farmers of Iowa | (515) 232-5661 | steve@practicalfarmers.org