Mountain Food & Farm Apprenticeship Program

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As part of the EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems Project in the seven western counties of North Carolina, including the Qualla Boundary of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, the Empowering Mountain Food Systems Apprenticeship Program brings education and workforce development opportunities to the region in partnership with Western Carolina University, Haywood Community College, Southwestern Community College, and Tri-County Community College.

Our goal is to match paid Apprentices with regional food and farming Mentor Businesses along the local supply chain. By pairing unique student skill sets with business needs, we have an opportunity to help provide services Mentors need to improve their business’ profitability and exposure while supplying real life experience for college students and the potential for future local business development. Areas that Mountain Food & Farm Apprenticeship Program Covers

To apply for Fall 2020 apprenticeship positions, apply through NC State University: Apply Now for Fall 2020. 

To apply for future 2020 cycles, please fill out this short interest form and we’ll get in touch with you to discuss your needs: Apply for Future 2020 Apprenticeship Positions.

This program is designed to encourage buying and eating local. The far western mountain region of NC has bountiful farmland, accessible natural resources, admired educational institutions, an amazing sense of community, and businesses which strive to promote an active and healthy lifestyle. The mission of the Mountain Food and Farm Apprenticeship Programs is to bring all of these resources together for regional economic success.



Apprenticeship Benefits

  • Hands-on practical work experience
  • Use your unique skill sets to help improve your Mentor’s business and profitability
  • Income for your work
  • Fulfill student work hour requirements

Mentor Benefits

  • Paid apprentice to add to your labor force
  • Valuable services that your business needs
  • Promote regional partnerships with educational institutions and non-profit organizations
  • Improve local food and farm economic development in the region
  • Provide beneficial work experience to future entrepreneurs
  • Gain community recognition

Apprenticeship Program FAQ for Students

Apprentices must be enrolled in one of the following educational institutions or be a graduate within 1 year:  

  • Western Carolina University;
  • Haywood Community College;
  • Southwestern Community College; or
  • Tri-County Community College.

Students originally from the area and enrolled in other colleges or universities who are returning to the region for school breaks are also eligible. Apprenticeship terms are 8-week or 16-week positions with an average of 20 hours per work week. Students must be 18 years of age or older in order to participate.

Fill out this short interest form for future cycles of the Mountain Food & Farm Apprentice Applications.

Fill out an NC State University application for the Fall 2020 Empowering Mountain Food Systems Farm Apprenticeships.

Apprenticeship Program FAQ for Mentors

Mentors will be interviewed by the Program Manager to address the services most needed to improve their local business and to design an apprenticeship program that meets the needs of both students and mentors. Hosts will have the opportunity to interview the apprentice candidates and review submission documents, but final placement decisions will be made by the Program Manager with mentor approval. 

 Accepting Mountain Food & Farm Mentor Applications

Mountain Food & Farm Apprenticeship Program Team

Christina Newhouse

Mountain Food & Farm Apprenticeship Program Manager

EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems Project

(828) 361-2266 

Laura D. Lauffer 

Project Director, EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems

919-444-1478 | 828-359-6926