FAQs about the apprenticeship
Q: When will you be offering Apprenticeship Orientation Tours in 2013?
A: In 2013 we will be giving apprenticeship orientation tours every other Thursday beginning July 18, 2013 at 2 pm. These dates are July 18, August 1, August 16, August 29, September 12 and September 26. Please see the Apprenticeship Information page for more information on the tours and volunteering to help harvest. In addition, there will be docent-led public tours of the CASFS/UCSC Farm offered the first Sunday of the month from 2 pm-4 pm starting in June 2013.
Q: I can’t come for one of the scheduled Orientation Tours, but I would like to schedule a visit another time.
A: If you would like to visit another time, you’re welcome to do so – the facilities are open to the public daily from 8:00 am to 6:00 pm, and the public is welcome to walk around and look at the Farm and Chadwick Garden. Unfortunately, we do not have enough staffing to host visits or arrange for guided tours or volunteer sessions for prospective apprentice applicants other than the scheduled Orientation Tours and harvesting sessions (harvesting on Tuesday and Friday mornings, July through September).
Q: What is your application deadline for the 2014 Apprenticeship program?
A: Our application deadline is September 30, 2013 (postmarked date) for U.S. residents for the apprenticeship course beginning the following spring (April 2014). The deadline for international applicants (including Canadians) is August 15, 2013 (postmarked date). Please note: Fees and Payments information has now been posted for the 2014 program. Check the Apprenticeship Information page for details.
Q: Do you have a brochure describing the program?
A: We no longer have a printed brochure. An overview of the program, including application dates, is available at Apprentice/Training; detailed information, including links to the application, housing, scholarship, and (for international applicants) visa forms, is available at: Apprenticeship Information
Q: Does the Apprenticeship offer financial aid?
A: The Apprenticeship Program is operated through UC Santa Cruz (UCSC) Extension, which unfortunately does not offer any financial aid, work-study or loan program. There is a pool of funding available for scholarships for applicants from systematically economically disadvantaged communities (e.g. working class, displaced homemakers, etc.).
Please see Apprenticeship Tuition Scholarship Application for details
Q: Does the program accept GI Bill Benefits?
A: Yes, the Apprenticeship is on the list of approved courses for the "Post 9/11 GI Bill," which can be used to cover tuition costs.
Q: Is UC Santa Cruz Extension considered a "Title IV School"? Can I use my Americorps education award to cover the cost of the Apprenticeship?
A: You can use your Americorps education award for tuition, food dues, and for the books and tools that we require for the apprenticeship program (approximately $350). The University is a “Title IV School” but the extension program is not, so you are limited to using your award only for these items.
Q: Can I get UCSC credit toward an undergraduate degree by completing the Apprenticeship Program?
A: At this point, the Apprenticeship is not recognized as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate course. However, some apprentices who are also enrolled as UCSC students have arranged for UCSC course credit by setting up independent studies with a UCSC faculty sponsor. Note, however, that this may involve having to pay both UCSC fees and the Apprenticeship program’s tuition in order to qualify for UCSC undergraduate course credits.
Q: Is there a connection between the Apprenticeship Program and UCSC’s graduate programs in Environmental Studies/Agroecology or Biology?
A: The Apprenticeship Program is separate from UCSC’s Biology or Enviromental Studies graduate programs. The Farm provides research fields, laboratory facilities and guidance to UCSC graduate students who do research; however, as a graduate student you would need to get approval from your advisor to take the Apprenticeship. We have, in past years, had graduate students take the program and get credit from universities other than UCSC. Whether you are able to receive graduate study credit for taking part in the Apprenticeship Program is up to your academic advisor.
Q: Do programs similar to the Apprenticeship exist?
A: There are many internships/apprenticeships across the U.S. on privately owned farms—usually during the growing season—and some that actually pay a stipend. The best place to find information on educational opportunities is from the USDA web site: http://www.nal.usda.gov/afsic/pubs/edtr/EDTR2009.shtml. This site includes an extensive list of colleges and universities offering sustainable agriculture programs, as well as internships and apprenticeships.
Also, the National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service's ATTRA website, http://attra.ncat.org/attra-pub/internships/index.php lists sustainable farming internships and apprenticeships across the U.S.
Q: How difficult is it for someone with little farming or gardening experience to be accepted into the program?
A: Showing an interest in sustainable agriculture by working or volunteering on a farm or in a garden is a good first step. Many people who want to take our program don't have the experience necessary to understand how much hard work is involved. Find an area of agriculture in which you’re interested (i.e. teaching, farming, urban gardening, outdoor education, working with children or adults, working in a nursery, marketing, etc.) and take steps to pursue it. We don't require people to be experts, just that you're willing to try to make a career involving sustainable agriculture.
Q: If accepted into the Apprenticeship, can I defer my acceptance until next year?
A: We don't defer applications because each year we consider the pool of applicants in totality – to ensure that we have diversity of backgrounds, age, experience, ethnicity, interests, geographic locations, etc. Thus each year we start fresh in considering applicants. If you are interested in applying to be an apprentice next year, you will need to submit your application again.
Q: Can I begin the program after the official start date?
A: We do not allow people to join the program late; all students must be here on the first day. As soon as the program begins there's a myriad of information that needs to be absorbed and techniques to be learned.
Q: Can you tell me my position on the waiting list?
A: Unfortunately we can’t tell you what “number” you are on the waiting list because we don’t use a strict numbering system. Rather, we group the waiting list people and then if someone who is accepted decides not to attend, we try to replace him or her with a person on the waiting list who is somewhat similar in order to maintain a balance of age, gender, interests, educational background, skill level, etc. We don’t know who might decline their acceptance to the program, so the best we can do is tell you what we estimate your chances to be—either very good, good, or slight. I wish we had a crystal ball, but all we can do is give you our best assessment based on our current knowledge and past experience.
Q: I wasn’t accepted this year; how can I improve my chances in the future?
A: We encourage applicants who were not accepted to continue to pursue their interests in sustainable agriculture in order to increase their background.
Also, we encourage all applicants to visit the farm, go on the apprentice Orientation Tour, and volunteer for a harvest morning or two. However, we receive many more qualified applicants than we have openings available.
Q: How can I obtain a copy of my transcripts?
A: We often receive calls from alumni apprentices needing "proof" that they completed the Apprenticeship Program. Please hold on to the certificates issued by UCSC Extension at the end of the program; this is your best proof. If you need to get official transcripts for a college or university, you may do so online at www.ucsc-extension.edu. Go to Student services, student account, transcript request information. There is a charge and they say to allow 3 weeks.
Q: Do you have used copies of the required books for the program available?
A: We have copies of some of the Apprenticeship Program’s required books in our library, along with some of the recommended books. Unfortunately, we don’t know of any past apprentices that want to sell their used books. You might want to try Powells.com—Powell’s is a great independent Portland bookstore with an excellent selection of used agriculture and gardening books.