Published Mar 6, 2024

Beginning farmers across Iowa can gain experience through PFI’s Labor4Learning program

By Elizabeth Wilhelm
Over a dozen on-farm jobs are available across the state

Contact: Elizabeth Wilhelm | Media Relations Coordinator | (515) 232-5661 |

AMES, Iowa (March 6, 2024)Beginning farmers looking to gain hands-on skills can now apply for paid on-farm jobs through Practical Farmers’ Labor4Learning program, which offers training with experienced farmers across the state who are committed to mentoring the next generation.


For the 2024 season, over a dozen jobs are available in a range of farm enterprises and production systems. All positions will offer mentoring that goes beyond an ordinary farm job.


In addition to core work tasks, experienced PFI farmers will provide extra training on topics such as record-keeping, marketing and other skills beginning and aspiring farmers might not otherwise be exposed to.


“Working with Donna Warhover at Morning Glory Farm fast-tracked my farming experience,” says Sara Ziehr, a Labor4Learning trainee from West Branch, Iowa. “I was able to observe a well-run farm with established procedures and got to be hands-on with a variety of tools and equipment. I also learned about different planting methods, integrated pest management and business management.”


Prior to launching their own farm businesses, it’s important that beginning and aspiring farmers gain experience with not only the day-to-day tasks of running a farm, but also what it takes to run a farm business.


Most on-farm jobs, however, do not expose employees to the full range of responsibilities required to run a farm operation. Labor4Learning seeks to fill the gap by offering a more well-rounded job experience.


“The Labor4Learning program is essential because it gives aspiring farmers the chance to try out different farming enterprises and styles before they make life-altering commitments to their own farm,” says Rachel Burke, PFI’s beginning farmer engagement coordinator.


Each trainer farm in the program was approved by a committee of Practical Farmers of Iowa members to serve as qualified teachers. The farms represent a diversity of enterprises and production practices, including row crops, multiple species of livestock, fruits and vegetables, flowers, cover crops, organic certification and more.


All positions are paid, and most trainer farms offer competitive wages, plus other perks and benefits. Some farms are also open to hiring multiple trainees.


A list of participating farms is included below, along with their locations and farm enterprises. Complete job descriptions and program details can be found at


To participate as a trainee in Labor4Learning, applicants should submit resumes and references directly to the trainer farm. If hired, participants are given a Practical Farmers of Iowa membership, opportunities to network with other beginning and aspiring farmers and discounts to PFI learning events.


For questions, contact Rachel Burke at (515) 232-5661 or


About Practical Farmers: Practical Farmers of Iowa is a nonprofit with more than 8,000 members that equips farmers to build resilient farms and communities. We create learning opportunities via farmer-led events, on-farm research and educational content through our robust network of farmers. We also provide funding and technical assistance to help farmers adopt regenerative farming practices and grow farm businesses. Our vision is an Iowa with healthy soil, healthy food, clean air, clean water, resilient farms and vibrant communities. To learn more, visit

2024 Labor4Learning Trainer Farms:

Boone County

  • Mike Salama – Salama Greenhouse Inc. (Boone) – Greenhouse production of ornamentals and hydroponic vegetables

Cedar County

  • Derek Roller and Molly Schintler – Echollective Farm (Mechanicsville) – Vegetables, herbs, flowers, mushrooms, seed garlic

Clayton County

  • Natasha Hegmann and Pete Kerns – Turkey River Farm (Elkport) – Pastured pigs and turkeys, vegetables, mushrooms, bedding plants

Linn County

  • Emma and Marcus Johnson – Buffalo Ridge Orchard (Central City) – Herbs, vegetables, apples, pears, row crops
  • Donna Warhover – Morning Glory Farm & Event Venue (Mt Vernon) – Vegetables, herbs, greenhouse and high tunnel production

Pottawattamie County

  • Matt Vermeersch – Mud Ridge Ranch (Council Bluffs) – Scottish Highland cattle, sheep, goats, pastured poultry

Story County

  • Alice McGary – Mustard Seed Community Farm (Ames) – Vegetables, fruits, herbs, flowers, bees, chickens, sheep

Warren County

  • Dennis McLaughlin – McLaughlin Farms LLC (Cumming) – Corn, soybeans, cattle

Winneshiek County

  • Parker Beard – Canoe Creek Dairy (Decorah) – Grass-fed dairy cattle, perennial pasture, hay, organic row crops
  • Hannah Breckbill – Humble Hands Harvest (Decorah) – Certified organic vegetables, sheep, perennial crops