Just over ten years ago, the initial withdrawal of military forces from Iraq began. Over the next several years, thousands of our military veterans returned home and began the process of re-acclimation to civilian life. During this time, more and more veterans called The Livestock Conservancy to ask about raising Heritage breed livestock. For many, the daily task of caring for animals and the greater mission of rare breed conservation aligns with the mission-focused military training they received. At the same time, many find the duty of raising livestock therapeutic.
Although 45% of military veterans come from rural areas (compared to just 15% of the overall population), many of those who contacted the Conservancy indicated a desire for training to raise Heritage breed animals. Some had experience only with crops while others wanted to raise different livestock than they had before. Some had no farming experience at all. To address their need, The Livestock Conservancy held its first training workshop for veterans, From Service to Stewardship, in 2012.
The impact of that first workshop on veterans and Master Breeders was so powerful, a commitment was made to host future workshops to train veterans to raise Heritage breeds. Five years later, From Service to Stewardship now connects former participants with established farms with long-time Master Breeders to train their fellow veterans. Training opportunities like From Service to Stewardship allow the Conservancy to fulfill its mission of protecting rare breeds from extinction while serving important communities like our veterans.
The fourth Service to Stewardship farming workshop was held at the Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, VA April 7-8, 2017.
Read about the workshop in USDA's Rural Cooperatives magazine.