Center of Excellence for Poultry Science Hosts Armed to Farm Workshop

Veteran farmer, Robert Cooley of Texas, snuggles a baby lamb at Maple Gorge Farm last week during Armed to Farm workshop when learning about livestock care and handling.
Photo by Hannah Toland

Veteran farmer, Robert Cooley of Texas, snuggles a baby lamb at Maple Gorge Farm last week during Armed to Farm workshop when learning about livestock care and handling.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The University of Arkansas, the UA System Division of Agriculture, Department of Poultry Science and the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science, received a three-year, $749,720 grant through the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program to aid in funding the Military Veterans Small Farms outreach program. This grant was awarded to professor Dan Donoghue and collaborators; professor H.L. Goodwin, Komala Arsi, Annie Donoghue, ARS, USDA, Margo Hale, Southeast Regional Office Director for National Center of Appropriate Technology, professor Anne Fanatico, Appalachian State University and other institutions.

The program is designed to soldier the success of military veterans in new poultry, small livestock, and agroforestry enterprises. The long term goal of this project is to develop and expand on a personalized comprehensive and integrated educational program that provides military veterans and minority beginning farmers and ranchers with relevant information and practical skills to succeed in their new or beginning agricultural enterprises.

Project coordinator Sarah Wright of the University of Arkansas and Hannah Toland of ARS/USDA talk with a veteran farmer mentor, Cory Bryk of North Carolina, about the apple trees in production on Ames Orchard and Nursery.

NCAT partner, Margo Hale, measures grass height with workshop participants while on a pasture walk at Maple Gorge Farm.

A veteran farmer mentor, Terrell Spencer of Across the Creek Farm, provides hands-on training for workshop participants in allowing them to move hoop houses across his pasture poultry operation.

The grant was used in part to fund a recently hosted week-long boot camp at University of Arkansas. The Armed to Farm: Sustainable Agriculture Training for Military Veterans workshop took place June 6-10. Participants of the program, 24 individuals whom were veterans or spouses of veterans, mostly from the Iraq-Afghanistan war expressed an interest in farming or had already started a small farming enterprise. Participants went through an intensive training program in poultry production, small livestock production, agroforestry practices, and business and personal planning activities. The program is a mix of both on-farm trainings with hands-on practices farm life and also in classroom teaching. Armed to Farm is a national program hosted in many states since 2010 through the Fayetteville office of NCAT under the direction of Margo Hale. This was the third Armed to Farm program to be hosted on the University of Arkansas Campus.

Participants were provided with housing and meals on campus, this was a great experience to stay together as a group throughout the week and build relationships with individuals in other areas as participants were representing over 11 states across the nation. Farmers were able to discuss production ideas and common roadblocks, conversation helped spark new ideas and interests and most importantly having common backgrounds from individuals serving in combat made for deeper engagement in all realms of the program. We would like to highlight the fantastic job Amanda Bobo from University Housing provided before, during and after the workshop to make things run smoothly.

The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program provides grants to organizations for education, mentoring and technical assistance initiative for beginning farmers and ranchers. Through a composition of hands-on training, e-learning modules and extensive networking efforts, the Military Veterans Small Farms Program reaches the underserved population of veteran farmers.

About University of Arkansas Poultry Science Department and the Center of Excellence for Poultry Science: The Center of Excellence for Poultry Science provides comprehensive programs in research, teaching, and extension dedicated to improving the lives of Arkansans associated with all components of the poultry industry by generating knowledge through research and putting that knowledge to use through education.

About the University of Arkansas: Founded in 1871 as a land-grant institution, the University of Arkansas is the flagship of the University of Arkansas System. Our 26,000 students represent all 50 states and more than 120 countries. The U of A has 10 colleges and schools offering more than 210 academic programs. The University of Arkansas is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Veteran farmer participants join together in helping assemble a high tunnel greenhouse at Ozark Alternatives Farm last week during the Armed to Farm Workshop.



Sarah Wright, project coordinator
Poultry Science Department

Dan Donoghue, project director, Military Veterans Small Farms Program
Poultry Science Department


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