Apprenticeships supply reasonably priced profession paths for the subsequent technology of meals and agriculture staff

Harrisburg, PA – From Lancaster to State College and Williamsburg to Pittsburgh, Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding toured Pennsylvania this week to highlight the Commonwealth’s seven state-certified agricultural training programs and two pre-training courses in honor of National Apprenticeship Week. Agricultural apprentices provide a path to fulfilling sought-after jobs in the food and agriculture sectors, human capital that is vital to maintaining safe and reliable food supplies.

“Pennsylvania’s farm workforce is key to making sure food gets from farm to plate. As we head towards National Apprentice Week, we are reminded that skilled farm workers are essential to the functioning of our food system at every step of the supply chain, “Redding said.” Training programs are forming the next generation of food and farm workers for the chain sought-after, competitive jobs.

Pennsylvania has long suffered from an agricultural labor shortage, particularly agriculture and technology. Apprentices are the future of the industry. Through paid, hands-on training, apprentices acquire affordable skills that pave the way to meaningful, well-paid jobs that support the stability of our food supply. “

Wendell Hurst, a pre-apprentice at Binkley & Hurst, 17, is working on the hydraulics of a skid steer loader. Download this photo and more here.

In Lancaster County, Redding was assisted by Department of Labor and Industry Secretary Jennifer Berrier at Binkley & Hurst. Binkley & Hurst prepares the next generation of equipment technicians through the education and training programs of the Northeast Equipment Dealers Association. In competence-based programs, apprentices and pre-apprentices acquire skills through practical learning. The teaching program includes around 4,000 hours of in-service training and 800 hours of technical training to prepare the apprentices for the job of equipment maintenance and repair. Binkley & Hurst is currently training three pre-apprentices who are paid for their work in learning the trade.

“Farm machinery continues to contain technology as innovative advances allow industry to produce more with less. We don’t have enough workers and we farm less land. Technology enables us to maximize our yields both in the field and with our people.” said Tim Wentz, executive director of the Northeast Equipment Dealers Association. “The Northeast Equipment Dealers Association is excited to be committed to this training program. It offers a clear and affordable path for those interested in a career as an equipment engineer. ”

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Butcher Apprenticeship Program students improve their skills through technical classes at Penn State’s Meats Lab. Download this photo and more here

In the Mitte district, Suzie Birchfield joined the Butcher Apprenticeship Program when she realized she was headed for a new career. Growing up on a Juniata County poultry farm, Suzie completed post-secondary education and elementary school teaching, but a career in meat processing was always on her mind. When COVID-19 hit, she realized that this was an opportunity to change careers and enter an industry that needs skilled workers. She enrolled for the butcher apprenticeship at Meats Lab in Penn State. Today she is the first woman to work in the Peachy Foods processing facility in Belleville, PA with the goal of one day owning her store.

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William Benitez is an apprentice at the Grazer dairy at Clover Creek Cheese Cellar. Download this photo and more here

In Blair County, Redding joined Pasa Sustainable Agriculture’s Dairy Apprentice Program at Clover Creek Cheese Cellar. The program brings prospective farmers together with mentors to offer a guided path to running or starting a dairy farm. When William Benitez and his mother emigrated to rural Pennsylvania from El Salvador, he became interested in the dairy industry after learning about the opportunities at a nearby dairy farm, Clover Creek Cheese Cellar. Working with farm owner and operator David Rice, William creates a hands-on experience that includes milk management and value-added processing on the farm.

“Pasa Sustainable Agriculture is proud to be part of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s National Apprenticeship Week celebrations,” said Hannah Smith-Brubaker, Pasa Sustainable Agriculture. In addition to our state and federally recognized training courses in diversified vegetable training and dairy farming, which train people to run a farm or start their own, we know that agricultural training is a win-win-win situation – for prospective farmers, for farms looking for a well-trained workforce and for the future of our food system. “

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Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding joined State Senator Lindsey Williams; Daniel Eichenlaub, President Eichenlaub, Inc .; Kendall Bomblatus; and Edgar Largaespada, Pittsburgh Workforce Development Board at Eichenlaub’s Outdoor Living Studio, to learn more about the Landscape Management Apprenticeship Program. Download this photo and more here.

In Pittsburgh at Eichenlaub’s Outdoor Living Studio, Apprentices participate in the national landscape management apprenticeship program administered by the National Association of Landscape Professionals. The trainees acquire the knowledge and skills required for landscape maintenance in more than 2,000 hours of extra-occupational training and further education. Eichenlaub, Inc. offers each apprentice training, a professional mentor, and a progressively higher salary as skills and competencies increase.

“I benefited from the landscape management training program in all 20 categories that I completed. It has improved my understanding of landscape maintenance, irrigation, lighting, planting, pruning, and how landscaping provides customers with their dream outdoor living space, ”said Zac Pulcini, Graduate of Landscape Management. “This program will benefit my future career and help me become a landscaper.”

“The Landscape Management apprenticeship program has increased the workforce by providing a career path with employment opportunity while you study,” said Dan Eichenlaub, President of Eichenlaub, Inc. “Apprentices are willing to commit to the program because it is well structured is, the content is very clear, the career path and the achievements are understandable and they are recognized as specialists with national qualifications after graduation. “

Pennsylvania’s $ 132.5 billion agribusiness creates more than 593,000 jobs across the Commonwealth and pays nearly $ 33 billion in wages each year. Agriculture is expected to face a labor force over the next decade as farmers and workers retire and new technology-based jobs become available.

Governor Wolf recognized the need for labor and launched the PAsmart initiative, which invests $ 30 million in professional and science education. The initiative supports network grants for Registered Apprenticeship, Pre-Apprenticeship and Apprenticeship Ambassador Network.

“Education and training provide an invaluable service to our local and national workforce by combining classroom teaching with on-the-job skills training and the opportunity to earn while studying,” said Jennifer Berrier, Minister of Labor and Industry . “L&I estimates that nearly nine out of ten apprentices are hired after completing their training, and most accept jobs with a starting salary of $ 60,000 or more. The education also enables Pennsylvanians to graduate with little to no student debt and the opportunity to develop a relationship with an employer directly before they even graduate. “

National Apprenticeship Week is a nationwide celebration that brings together leaders from industry, labor, justice, labor, education, and government to showcase the achievements and value of registered apprenticeship programs for developing a skilled workforce and strengthening the economy. The national apprentice week will take place from November 15 to 21, 2021.

To learn more about agricultural apprenticeship programs and human resource development initiatives, visit

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MEDIA CONTACT: Shannon Powers, Agriculture,


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