PA Awards $350,000 Grant to Berks County’s Rodale Institute to Support First-in-PA Apprenticeship in Organic Agriculture

Pennsylvania announced a $350,000 grant for the development of a first-in-Pennsylvania apprenticeship program that will offer real opportunity to Pennsylvanians seeking in-demand careers as organic compliance inspectors in the agriculture industry. The Rodale Institute plans to create an earn-as-you-learn registered apprenticeship program and develop a diverse pipeline of highly skilled professionals to serve the certified organic industry throughout the Commonwealth.

Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Secretary Nancy Walker and Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding visited the
Rodale Institute to announce the grant.

“Apprenticeship programs offer pathways to stable careers and family-sustaining wages without the crippling burden of debt. It’s also one of the best ways for employers to create customized education programs to ensure they have the talent pipeline they need to grow and be successful in a global economy,” Secretary Walker said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture ranks Pennsylvania third in the nation for organic
commodity sales – which exceeded $60 billion in 2022, according to a study by the Organic
Trade Association.

The Rodale Institute’s registered apprenticeship program will be supported by L&I’s
Apprenticeship and Training Office (ATO), which is responsible for guiding and promoting the expansion and compliance of all registered apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs across the Commonwealth.

“Consumer demand for organic products is growing exponentially and we have the opportunity to onshore production and ensure organic integrity throughout the production process, from farm to market,” said Rodale Institute CEO, Jeff Tkach.

The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that, on average, apprentices earn a starting wage of $80,000 per year after graduation and are on track to earn $300,000 more over their careers compared to workers who do not graduate from an apprenticeship program. For every dollar spent on apprenticeships, employers get an average of $1.47 back in increased productivity.