Training Programs for Global Stewards

Earn a Global Agroecology and Local Food Systems Certificate! The US-based program is designed for aspiring or established farmers, recent agriculture graduates, and sustainable agriculture advocates from around the world. MESA's Core Training and Certificate program fee is just $2800 USD for candidates nominated by a MESA Global Partner, or $3850 if you are applying on your own (click here for more on program costs). 

Program services & benefits included in your US Program Fee:

  • J1 agriculture trainee visa documentation and US Sponsorship
  • 24+ weeks full-time, supervised, hands-on training with a carefully screened US ecological farm, research center, nonprofit agricultural organization or sustainable ag. supply chain company
  • Agroecology curriculum, video links and monthly discussion groups with distinguished experts in the fields of agroecology, global food systems, biointensive mini farming, and urban permaculture
  • Orientation in Northern California with MESA staff and multinational Stewards - 
  • Comprehensive medical insurance
  • Monthly stipend for incidentals- $3600 average for successfully completing the 6.5 month program
  • Daily US food and lodging included at most Host placements
  • Full-time Coordinator support
  • Opportunity to develop an on-farm “SPRIG” project with Host that may also be replicated in home community
  • Exit Seminar in San Francisco with MESA staff, fellow Stewards & renowned leaders in the sustainable food systems movement
  • MESA matching grant eligibility and donor network access for Home Country Projects
  • Certificate in Global Agroecology and Local Food Systems, awarded by MESA, a US Department of State–designated Training and Cultural Exchange program

The Steward fee covers only a portion of the cost for the above program services, benefits and estimated US living expenses for the 24 week program. MESA fundraises and Hosts also send MESA a monthly program fee to help cover program costs.

Stewards nominated by a participating MESA Global Partner may apply for up to $1800 in MESA scholarship and/or loan support. 

First-time Stewards are encouraged to apply if your home country is represented among MESA’s current Global Partners.

If you don't see a Global Partner listed for your home country, you are welcome to apply by yourself. Carefully read the Steward Program Outline and Eligility Requirements before you submit your Steward Application (need application instructions in Spanish? Click here.)

MESA Stewards come with a wide range of expertise and life experience. Some work on family farms, others are leaders in their communities or are working toward advanced degrees in agroecology and similar disciplines. Many come from regions that have been in conflict for long periods, where the future of small-scale food production is uncertain. What MESA Stewards have in common is a desire to be exposed to the innovations in sustainable agriculture production and marketing in the US, and an eagerness to share social and agricultural traditions with their Hosts.

*enrolled University or college students must have five years of hands-on agriculture experience to qualify for the J1 agricutural trainee visa. The hands-on agriculture requirement for post-secondary graduates is one year.


MESA offers three annual US Programs

Core Training Program (CTP) / Certificate in Global Agroecology and Local Food Systems

MESA’s largest program described above. The Core Program is designed for international candidates seeking practical training experience with small-scale organic, biodynamic, transitional, and sustainable US farms and agricultural education and research centers. Read the Program Outline.

Example Hosts: Hoch Orchard and Gardens, Bobolink DairyDripping Springs Garden

Next Level Program (NLP) / Advanced Management Certificate of Global Agroecology and Local Food Systems

The NLP is only available to successful graduates of MESA's CTP who seek advanced agricultural skills, particularly in farm management.

Example Hosts: The Natural Grocery CompanyThanksgiving Farm at the Center for Discovery, Farm Fresh to You, Clark Farm

Individualized Training Program (ITP)

This program can be customized for individuals and Host institutions who have already established a training connection, and would like assistance with aspects of cultural exchange, visa documentation and temporary employment authorization, but do not need placement services. International applicants who have established relationships with US Host organizations should ask their prospective Host to contact MESA.

Example Hosts: Ecology Action, Organic Materials Review Institute
Want to learn more about the ITP? Click here for ITP-Frequently Asked Questions 

If you are interested in becoming a MESA Steward, first determine if MESA has a Global Partner in your country. If you find a Global Partner representative for your country, please contact your home country representative directly to set up an interview. Individuals without Global Partner representation may apply for the CTP only if you have the funds to cover the US Program fee. If you have already been offered temporary work or an internship with a US placement. you may instead apply for the ITP.

Do you have questions about MESA's programs? Check the FAQ!

A note for large groups:

MESA also develops "custom-designed" programs for groups of agricultural  professionals seeking specialized training related to organic certification, fair trade, farm advocacy, etc. or in organic export marketing/sustainable supply chain management. (Example hosts: Organic BouquetOrganic Valley Family of FarmsVeriflora-certified wholesalers and nurseries.)

MESA welcomes inquiries from both non-governmental and government agencies. Please contact us if you are trying to arrange US training for your group of agriculturists.

Last year Abraham Yidana trained with Crown S. Ranch, a highly diversified ranch in Washington, where he learned about humane animal husbandry, low-input technology and maximized resource use. Upon return home...