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National Young Farmers Coalition | 2022 Colorado Water Fellowship

2022 Colorado Water Fellowship

About the Program

With drought, limited access to water rights, and ever-dwindling water supplies in Colorado, young producers are struggling to access the water necessary to start a farm or ranch. Additionally, the water boards that shape the management and use of water at the state and local level have few members who are young farmers, women, and people of color. However, these producers will be managing land and water in the future and the decisions water boards make now will impact agriculture for decades. The National Young Farmers Coalition (Young Farmers) is addressing this gap through an educational fellowship that will guide a cohort of ten young farmers and ranchers towards leadership positions in water and local advocacy across Colorado.

We are excited to bring the water fellowship program back to Colorado this year! The program will be designed to provide participants with in-depth knowledge on water law and policy while building essential advocacy skills. They will work on creative advocacy projects in their communities, engaging other young farmers and partner organizations throughout Colorado in environmental justice and water policy. Fellows will also receive a $2,750 stipend for their time in the program. At the end of the Fellowship, the participants will run for water boards and step into leadership positions across the state in groups such as soil and water conservation district boards, ditch company boards, agriculture advisory boards, and basin roundtables.

Selected fellows will participate in a series of six monthly virtual webinars, one in-person retreat, and one in-person gathering March 2023 in Washington, D.C. The March D.C. gathering will be a joint lobby day with Young Farmers land fellows and other Young Farmer advocates to lobby their Members of Congress for equitable land, water, and climate policy in the 2023 Farm Bill.

Applicant Qualifications and Program Requirements

Eligible applicants must:

  • Own or work on a for-profit, cooperative, community, or non-profit farm or ranch, or plan to work on, manage, or own a farm or ranch in 2022-2023, within the state of Colorado
  • Be at least 18 years of age at the start of the program (November 8, 2022) 
  • Currently live in Colorado

The final cohort will be a majority-BIPOC, and we encourage applicants to apply who identify as being part of a community that has been marginalized or excluded from policymaking processes – such as farmers who are Black, Indigenous, people of color, women, LGBTQ+, immigrants.

If you’re not sure if you qualify, or if you have other questions, please reach out to megan@youngfarmers.org.

What to Expect

  • A $2,750 stipend to cover the cost of your time spent in the program, running for boards or commissions, working on community advocacy projects, and attending the D.C. fly-in
  • 5 online webinars in November – March
  • 1 in-person retreat in late January/Early February
  • 1 in person gathering at D.C. Fly-In in March  
  • 1 additional webinar in October
  • Dedicated staff support throughout program

Outcomes for the Fellowship

  • Learn about water law and policy
  • Develop your leadership skills
  • Step into a water leadership position and run for a water board
  • Create a project to benefit other young and BIPOC producers with a local water organization

Pandemic Safety and Flexibility

The pandemic continues to cause significant hardship in our communities, particularly for BIPOC communities. The pandemic has also been a catalyst for unprecedented cultural and policy change. The National Young Farmers Coalition will facilitate this fellowship online to create a safe and healthy space during this pandemic. As currently planned, the fellowship will include an in-person retreat, as well as an in-person fly-in to Washington, D.C. to advocate for equitable climate policy in the 2023 Farm Bill. 

While the sessions will be held regularly every month, this pandemic has taught us to be flexible. Dates may potentially change during the course of the fellowship. Our in-person retreat and fly-in to D.C. will be held with updated COVID-19 guidelines in place, and may be virtual depending on pandemic conditions at the time of the event.

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