Learn to lead short, accessible programs on 5 common agricultural law subjects for your community
Develop skills incorporating farmers directly into your legal education programming
Leverage the support of Farm Commons staff and peers as you build your community's legal resilience

Would you like to learn how to lead hour-long educational programs on popular farm law subjects at conferences, workshops, and field days in your community?

Become a Legal Ecosystem Fellow, and we’ll show you how!

We need you. Farm Commons staff can’t be every where, each winter, leading all the farm law programming that agricultural communities need to become resilient. And even if we could- it’s not ideal. We want to build the capacity of local agricultural educators to teach and support community members closest to them. We want to teach YOU to lead farm law workshops in your community!

Fellows have seen how a lack of access to legal knowledge can put small farms under when it comes to issues like accessing land, getting proper insurance coverage, settling disputes with neighbors, and following zoning codes. They recognize that supporting farmers’ ability to navigate these areas of law is crucial to sustaining and expanding agricultural communities.

If you are an agricultural educator, you can teach farm law.

It’s a fact that non-attorneys can be effective teachers of farm law – our staff proves it. This program provides what you need to become a community leader in farm law education. We’ve spent a decade crafting accessible, plain-language presentations for you to share in your communities. With the Legal Ecosystem Fellowship program, you will learn how to facilitate powerful teaching and learning spaces around farm law.

We ask that you first take our workshop, Guiding Resilience, so you have a strong baseline knowledge. (If necessary, you can also take our Discovering Resilience Self-Paced workshop to meet this requirement before the Fellowship program begins.)

Get the support you need, now and later, to share farm law knowledge.

Our 6-meeting Fellowship program will give you the tools to get going. We’ll walk you through template presentations with slides and scripts, show you how to create interactivity, discuss common questions and response techniques, and address any fears and worries. Together, we’ll sharpen our ability and perspective on farm law subjects. And our relationship won’t end after the last meeting! We will help you get your first presentation off the ground by providing editorial and technical support.

We commit to you, as well.

Your time is valuable, and we want to compensate you for investing in your capacity as an agriculture service provider. Participation in the Legal Ecosystem Fellowship program will take about 28 hours of your time between October and March. Each fellow receives an honorarium of $1400 for their time investment in this program.

We aim to see each Fellow lead a workshop or two in their community over the winter of 2023-2024. Let’s work together to make it happen!

Be sure to read the FAQ below and then: apply today! Application portal closes on August 8, 2023 and determinations will be sent shortly after August 14, 2023. 

Follow this link to our application form

Have more questions before you apply? No problem- if the FAQ below doesn’t answer it, reach out to rachel@farmcommons.org for more information.

Am I the type of agricultural educator you are looking for? What are the criteria for participating?

These are our criteria to become a Legal Ecosystem Fellow:

  1. Fellows have experience developing and delivering farm/ranch educational presentations.Individuals employed as farm/ranch educators fit this requirement, including extension educators, non-profit staff, governmental body/agency staff, and farm business consultants. Many farmers are also agricultural educators with significant farmer education experience, and we welcome anyone with farm/rancher education experience to apply.
  2. Fellows must have taken Guiding Resilience online or in person.The in-person programming went by the longer title Guiding Farmers to Legal Resilience and was held in several midwestern states. If you haven’t completed Guiding Resilience, we can accept Fellows that register for and complete the Discovering Resilience Self-Paced workshop before the Fellowship begins on September 12.
  3. Fellows are able to attend at least 5 of the 6 fellowship sessions, including completing 90 minutes of pre-work in advance of each session.
  4. Fellows are able to participate in meetings in English and with necessary hardware and connectivity to access Google Drive, complete written responses online, and join Zoom meetings with video.

What will I get out of being a Legal Ecosystem Fellow?

Fellows will receive training and resources that enable them to lead 60-minute presentations on five common farm law subjects:

  • Business structures
  • Insurance, liability, and food safety
  • Land matters including leasing
  • Farm employment law
  • An overview of essential steps to legal resilience.

Fellows also receive specific training in how to incorporate the lived wisdom of farmers into the programming by hosting a Farmer Co-Presenter. As a peer-focused program, Fellows will develop stronger connections to peers in the region who are also interested in developing their capacity to support legal resilience.

What is expected of the Fellows?

We expect that Fellows will seek opportunities to deliver one of the five presentations in their community over the winter of 2023-24. Fellows can integrate a presentation into a program they’re already running, such as a beginning farmer training program. Other options include pitching a session at a nearby conference and partnering with a local organization to host a webinar.

We are also eager to support our Fellow alums in hosting additional farm law presentations. The honorarium is just for the Fellowship period, but you can expect ongoing support in the form of presentation templates and a platform to collaborate with cohort-members and Farm Commons staff on additional presentations.

What is the Legal Ecosystem Fellowship process like?

Fellows meet every other week for 3 months to learn and discuss farm business structures, employment law, land matters, food safety, and liability/insurance. Fellows will complete no more than 90 minutes of pre-work before each session. We will use each two hour session to explore legal topics, discuss questions, practice skills, and support one another.

As the fellowship progresses, you will have opportunities to practice your presentation skills and get your individual questions about farm law answered.

When are the fellowship sessions held?

Fellowship sessions will be held September 19, October 3, 17, 31, and November 14 from 10am-12pm CT. There will also be a final, celebratory meeting in Spring 2024, exact date to be decided.

What are the details of the honorarium?

We provide each participant with an honorarium of $1400. To receive the honorarium, Fellows will provide their information in Gusto, our secure payment management system. We can make the payment to you, the Fellow, or to your employer. A social security number, TEIN, or EIN is required to receive payment so we can fulfill our tax obligations.

The honorarium will be made via direct deposit or paper check. Before issuing the honorarium, we will ask participants to sign an MOU agreeing that the honorarium does not create an employment relationship.

Participants may forgo the payment if they wish, or if they are prohibited from accepting an honorarium.

If I apply, will I receive a fellowship spot?

We anticipate receiving more applications than we have available spots. We apologize in advance if we are not able to accept all applicants! In that event, we will extend invitations based on our priorities. We strive to create a diverse Fellows cohort representative of a wide variety of expertise and personal experiences. We will prioritize the following applicants:

  • Educators based in the North Central SARE region.
  • Black, Indigenous, and People of Color agricultural educators
  • Educators with readily available opportunities to lead workshops.

This program is supported by North Central SARE through a Professional Development Grant.