The Patriot Project by the American Farm Bureau Federation helps veterans transition from military service to careers in agriculture. As we prepare to celebrate Veterans Day, Micheal Clements shares how the project works.
Clements: The American Farm Bureau Federation Patriot Project helps veterans adapt to farming and ranching through mentors. Veteran Damon Helton, Arkansas Farm Bureau member and Patriot Project mentee, says the project connects veterans with farmers.
Helton: It’s like a mentorship program. So, here in Arkansas, I was teamed up with a guy who was successful in farming and other business ventures and he kind of showed me the ropes. So, it’s an opportunity to take young entrepreneur veterans that are business minded, trying to build something, and gives them a mentor with someone who’s been successful.
Clements: Through the Patriot Project, Helton says veterans learn how to run their farm like a business.
Helton: For me, I was very serious about it being a business model. I wanted to succeed and grow and feed my community. But in order to do that you have to treat it like a business. You have to understand what your input costs are, and you have to understand your margins, and you grow and you’re going to need employees. And so, I really learned how to run my farm like a true business.
Clements: Helton calls agriculture a natural fit for veterans.
Helton: We’re predisposed coming out of the military for all the things that being a farmer requires, long hours, early mornings, very strenuous dirty work. We’re searching for service that we’ve lost when we get out, so agriculture is just an amazing fit for that, because that’s truly what it is, it’s service to our nation.
Clements: Learn more about the Patriot Project at fb.org. Micheal Clements, Washington.