Meet just some of the 2018 Organic Farming Certificate Program students, who'll be working at Rodale Institute this summer to further their knowledge in organic agriculture.
Michael Lupacchino is an Army and Coast Guard veteran with a combined 16 years of service. Mike served four years with the Coast Guard as an electronic technician. After leaving the Coast Guard in 1998, Mike used his G.I. Bill to receive a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Central Connecticut State University. Then, in 2005, Michael returned to the military as an Army officer, where he was stationed in South Korea with the 1st-72nd Armor Battalion. He then was attached to the 9th Psychological Operations Battalion where he served two deployments in Afghanistan and was awarded the Bronze Star and a Combat Action Badge.
In 2017, Michael retired from his military career and immediately took interest in regenerative organic agriculture due largely to the toll the military had put on his body during the 16 years he served. With his health in mind, Michael has turned to the Organic Farmer Certificate Program to learn how to establish a farm and support his family. After completing the program, he wants to establish his own certified organic farm and to be an entrepreneur in the organic agriculture industry. Mike will use his knowledge from his hydroponics certification, Organic Farming Certificate with his military experience to create a profitable homestead for his family.
Alexzandra Warren is an Organic Farming Certificate Program student from Lehighton, PA. Her father was a Gulf War vet and her family relocated often while she was growing up. She recalls the family’s love for gardening and cooking during her childhood as one of her fondest memories. From a young age, her family taught her the importance of health and nutrition. Alexzandra is currently a full time Microbiology Operations Supervisor, where she completes food testing and ensures food safety standards are met.
Alex and her boyfriend have recently purchased five acres of land with the intent of creating a sustainable homestead. Already experienced in gardening, she has decided to produce more and move towards farming rather than just gardening. So that she can learn how to use the land to its full potential, Alex joined the Organic Farming Certification Program . She has already completed a beekeeping class at Delaware Valley University and loved the atmosphere. By working with the experts at Rodale Institute and DelVal, she wants to expand her knowledge in agriculture and use her land to feed her family and sell excess produce to customers.
Emily Georgis is a Delaware Valley University student from the Lehigh Valley area. Two years ago, Emily converted to a vegetarian lifestyle and has become more aware of the necessity of fresh fruits and vegetables. She originally studied Environmental Science at Moravian College and while in college, Emily volunteered with Rodale Institute, where she was introduced to organic agriculture.
After volunteering at Rodale Institute’s plant sale, Emily decided to pursue a career in organic agriculture because of its alignment with her vegetarian lifestyle and its progressive effort to reverse our impact on the Earth. While searching for organic farming education programs, Emily discovered DelVal’s Organic Farming Certificate Program, perfect for her to develop the skills and knowledge she needs to achieve her goal. After completing the program, Emily wants to pursue an internship or apprentice program to further gain experience. Once comfortable with her skills, she would like to work with the Peace Corps or the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), a volunteer movement that connects people through organic farming and help in the effort to restore our planet.
Paul Maxwell Fretz is a recent Agribusiness graduate at Delaware Valley University from Fleetwood, PA. He anticipates incorporating what he has learned into his family’s business. Paul’s family owns several properties around Berks County, which he has helped maintain since he was a teenager.
Motivating his decision to learn organic agriculture is a new business concept; organic yard farming, which he can then integrate into his family’s established property rental company. He believes that this can expand his family’s business as well as allow him to enter a new business market as a local grower.
Paul wants to use the Organic Farming Certificate Program as a way to be an accredited source and influence organic farming into his local community with the yard farms on his properties.
Mike Wilcox is an Air Force veteran who worked with the 4th Space Operations Squadron at Schriever AFB, where he served as a Satellite Operator for four years. After four years of working indoors, Mike turned to organic agriculture as a way to spend more time outdoors and work in a field that embodies his own environmental beliefs.
Upon completing the Organic Farming Certification Program, Mike wants to return home to Florida, work on an organic farm, and teach his family and community the benefits of organic food and farming.
Andrew Jones is a graduate from Drexel University in Environmental Policy. Andrew chose the Organic Farming Certification Program because of its hands-on approach to teaching students and the credibility it has with the strategic partnership between Rodale Institute and Delaware Valley University. He currently works at Rolling Hills Farm in Lambertville, NJ.
Following the program, he hopes to pursue a career in the environmental field and plans on starting his own organic vegetable farm.
Join a Growing Community of Organic Farmers!
Organic Farming Certificate Program students gain the knowledge and hands-on experience necessary to start a small-scale organic farm or work for an organic operation. The program offers assistance with job placement and developing business plans for farms so that graduates can easily move into rewarding organic agriculture careers.