Robeson Community College

New Partnership Helps Build the Next Generation of Ag Leaders

Robeson Community College is excited to announce a new partnership with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) and the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) to help build the next generation of agriculture leaders in Robeson County.

CEFS was awarded $200,587 by the Native American Agriculture Fund to provide economic opportunities and career mobility for Lumbee youth, while also building capacity in the local agricultural community. This will be done primarily through a new recently launched initiative, the Native American Sustainable Agriculture & Food Systems Apprenticeship, which is a program that aims to boost youth involvement in agriculture, increase diversity and inclusion, and promote agriculture and agricultural sciences as a viable career path.

“Growing up in agriculture, and having worked on the farm with my Grandparents alongside a host of relatives and community members, I am delighted to see the investment of time, resources, and money towards building the next generation of agricultural leaders on native lands,” said RCC President Singler.

As part of its ‘Developing Food and Agricultural Career Pathways for Lumbee Youth’ project, CEFS in partnership with RCC and UNCP seeks motivated students and/or young adults interested in pursuing careers in agriculture, agribusiness, or food systems to participate in this hands-on apprenticeship program.

Native American students and youth in North Carolina are extremely under-represented in agricultural careers, even though agriculture is North Carolina’s number one industry. It is estimated that nearly 1 in 4 Native Americans experience food insecurity, compared to 1 in 8 of all Americans. This largely due to a scarcity of  jobs and food access in areas with high populations of Native Americans. 

This program hopes to change those statistics.

The first cohort of the apprenticeship program will last approximately one year. Apprentices will be paid $12 per hour for approximately 20 hours per week. Apprentices will be paired with experienced mentors from Lumbee-owned food and agricultural businesses in Robeson County to receive hands-on training and education in sustainable food practices. The apprenticeship is open to current college students or recent college graduates living in an around Robeson County who display enthusiasm for local food production and respect for farmers and producers from diverse rural communities.

“We are so thankful for the grant opportunity by NAAF and CEFS that is aimed at developing agricultural pathways for Lumbee youth,” said Singler. “This money will go a long way in helping to educate the future farmers of Robeson County.”

For more information on the apprenticeship program, please contact Dr. LaRonda Lowery at or (910) 272-3305 or visit Spotlight on Local Innovation by NC Works Commission.