Published Mar 9, 2017

Member Spotlight: Michael Christl — and Labor4Learning Opportunities!

By Tamsyn Jones

Thank you to everyone who came to our 2017 annual conference! It’s always wonderful to see so many familiar and new faces each year.

With so many members coming from all across Iowa (and beyond!), it’s also a perfect opportunity to capture more photos of the many faces that make up Practical Farmers of Iowa.

In this week’s member spotlight, we continue our theme of featuring some of the PFI members who helped make this year’s conference another great success.

Michael Christl
Member since 2015
Des Moines, IA

Michael is an aspiring farmer who grew up in the state of Nevada and has been living in the Des Moines area for the past couple of years. He learned about Practical Farmers of Iowa while attending the 2015 Fall Farm Cruise featuring Practical Farmers member farms, such as The Berry Patch, Cory Family Farm and Seven Pines Farm in the Polk and Story county areas.

Michael currently works as market coordinator for Drake Neighborhood Farmers Market — but he is interested in grass-fed and niche livestock.

Through PFI’s Labor4Learning program, Michael was hired by Cory Family Farm, where he worked as a trainee for most of 2016. Michael said that working for the Cory family was “an invaluable experience, and they’ll continue to be [his] mentors forever.”

Michael hopes to start his own livestock enterprise in the future, but plans to gain more experience by spending the 2017 season working for another experienced livestock operation. He also plans to continue seeking out learning opportunities through Practical Farmers and other organizations in central Iowa.

Practical Farmers’ Labor4Learning program was created to help aspiring farmers like Michael find farm employment opportunities, while helping experienced farmers find motivated employees. The program connects these individuals — and includes an additional training component.

In addition to the normal work activities related to the specific on-farm job, the trainer and trainee agree on a set of learning outcomes they will address during the course of employment. Practical Farmers gives trainers a stipend to account for the extra time they spend teaching and offers additional perks to trainees, as well as general support during the term of the program.

Job opportunities through Labor4Learning have just been updated for 2017. If you’re a beginning or aspiring farmer looking to gain real-world experience, be sure to check the list of openings. Opportunities vary widely and span a range of farm enterprises, from greenhouses to diverse crop and livestock farms.

If you have questions about the program — or would like to take part as a trainee or trainer — contact Steve Carlson at (515) 232-5661 or