The PA Veteran Farming Project is pleased to announce that August 1st was the start date for a new Veterans Administration On-the-Job (VA OJT) Apprenticeship at Black Valley Farm in Everett, PA, facilitated under our Troops to Tractors program. We anticipate approval of the educational plan by the PA Dept. of Education imminently.
Alana Schoffstall (L), Sole Proprietor of Black Valley Farm, will act as the mentor farmer for Joe Cappricci (center) U.S. Army Reserves, during a 24-month Veterans Administration on-the-job training (“VA OJT”) apprenticeship following Capprici’s recent return from a year-long deployment in in the Middle East.
As most know, individuals eligible for VA educational benefits can attend institutions of higher learning; less well-known is that these benefits can also be applied to hands-on learning in a paid mentored, entry-level apprenticeship. In many cases, at the conclusion of a VA OJT the mentor hires the trainee to a full-time position.
PA Veteran Farming Project’s Troops to Tractors program facilitates connections between eligible veterans and experienced farmer-mentors.
Schoffstall developed a twenty-four-month, seventy-five category Education Plan for OJT training with assistance from Dennis Renner (R, above), approving official from the PA Department of Education. Capricci will learn agricultural skills ranging from swine husbandry, dairy management, shepherding, poultry processing, market crops, value added products. During his time at Black Valley Farms, he will also have the opportunity to work with mentor Schoffstall to hone agribusiness skills such as event planning, sales and marketing, and bookkeeping.
Black Valley is noted for its breeding program for Kunekune pigs, prized by chefs and pork lovers, and desired by farms such as veteran-owned Forever Heart Farms, LLC, Allegheny Co. PA. The breed is noted for its tractable disposition and flavorful meat. Schoffstall breeds her Kunekune to be less damaging to pasture than other traditional breeds.
The overarching goals of the OJT will be to equip Capricci with the ability to manage or own a successful small holding farm using modern agricultural techniques and business methods. Black Valley’s business plan focuses on pastured heritage meats such as pork, lamb, poultry, and beef; and on-farm educational events including their very popular upcoming Pastured Pork Workshops.
Black Valley Farm and their products can be found on-line at www.blackvalleyfarm.com On Facebook: @BlackValleyFarmKunekunePigs and at 9048 Black Valley Rd, Everett, Wholesome Living Marketplace, The Golden Eagle Inn, and The Balance in Johnstown Pennsylvania.