The SAVE Farm Is Awarded Nearly $1 Million Grant To Train Veterans How To Farm


Funding comes on heels of new core curriculum and classes beginning in January

Manhattan, Kan. – The Service Member Agricultural Vocation Education (SAVE) Farm, is a proud recipient of nearly $1 million from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to expand its programs headquartered just north of Manhattan, Kansas.

“We’re thrilled to be a partner of the USDA and for this critical work we are doing with veterans and service members to be recognized nationwide,” says Col. (ret.), Gary LaGrange, SAVE Farm co-founder and president. “With this grant, and one previously awarded, we hired our first veteran staff members and will begin our first courses in January at Cloud County Community College, Manhattan Area Technical College, and Kansas State University. NIFA provided grants totaling nearly $7 million this year for veteran programs enhancing American agriculture and building the economic viability of agriculture and production nationwide.

At the SAVE Farm, veterans are training to become the next generation of American farmers through its diverse, one-year accredited program. From livestock and row crop management to woodworking and diverse sustainable farming practices, participants will experience classroom and immersive, hands-on training.

“We are passionate about preserving, protecting and promoting the agriculture industry and we very much believe in the SAVE Farm’s mission,” says Nancy Zenger-Beneda, Vice President for Academic Affairs at Cloud County Community College in Concordia. “We welcome this great opportunity for our students to get more hands-on work while learning to value and respect what the military does for our country.”

The first SAVE Farm cohort begins Jan. 23. Applications are being accepted now through mid-January, but space is limited so early applications are encouraged.

Click here to read the SAVE Farm story. Go to and click on the “More” tab for details on our curriculum and application process. Questions? contact Victoria Cherrie, 816-810-4143.


The SAVE Farm provides a pathway to farming for transitioning veterans and service members through a one-year accredited training program. In partnership with Kansas State University, community colleges and organizations across the country, the farm will serve as a national model for filling the deficit of one million farmers in America over the next decade while helping veterans cope from their seen and unseen combat wounds.

Derek Nester
Derek Nester
Derek Nester was born and raised in Blue Rapids and graduated from Valley Heights High School in 2000. He attended Cowley College in Arkansas City and Johnson County Community College in Overland Park studying Journalism & Media Communications. In 2002 Derek joined Taylor Communications, Inc. in Salina, Kansas working in digital media for 550 AM KFRM and 100.9 FM KCLY. Following that stop, he joined Dierking Communications, Inc. stations KNDY AM & FM as a board operator and fill-in sports play-by-play announcer. Starting in 2005 Derek joined the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network as a Studio Coordinator at 101 The Fox in Kansas City, a role he would serve for 15 years culminating in the Super Bowl LIV Championship game broadcast. In 2021 he moved to Audacy, formerly known as Entercom Communications, Inc. and 106.5 The Wolf and 610 Sports Radio, the new flagship stations of the Kansas City Chiefs Radio Network, the largest radio network in the NFL. Through all of this, Derek continues to serve as the Digital Media Director for Sunflower State Radio, the digital and social media operations of Dierking Communications, Inc. and the 6 radio stations it owns and operates across Kansas.

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