Prairie Farm Corps

Today’s youth will build the sustainable food systems of tomorrow. The Prairie Farm Corps helps lay the groundwork for a more resilient local food system by immersing youth in sustainable agriculture, providing mentoring, and reflecting on the collaboration between land and living systems. The Prairie Farm Corps implements these ideas into the daily work of a diverse group of youth, some from underserved communities, by providing an experiential paid work experience on the Prairie Crossing Farm. Participants gain job skills applicable to any career, the capability to grow and cook fresh vegetables, and a hands-on introduction to sustainable agriculture.


PFC LOGO 2013 lo-rezSupport from the philanthropic and business community is vital to the Prairie Farm Corps. Sponsorship is an investment in the future workforce. Sponsor the Prairie Farm Corps today, and invest in youth development!

With the support of our generous sponsors, the Prairie Farm Corps successfully cultivates vegetables, youth, AND community. Thank you to our generous sponsors: The Morrison Family Foundation, Roy G. Kerr Foundation, Liberty Prairie Foundation, Vermont Compost, individual donors, and a special donation in memory of Clifford Carlberg.

The Prairie Farm Corps is based on the Boston Food Project, and uses some of their published educational curriculum.

Join the Prairie Farm Corps

Prairie Farm Corps hiring begins in late January for the upcoming spring and summer season. We seek energetic and diverse youth who want to work hard and have a positive impact on their community and the environment by growing food together. Successful candidates will be hard working team players with a positive attitude who are interested in organic agriculture.

We have developed recruiting partnerships at three high schools in central Lake County (Grayslake Central, Grayslake North, and Round Lake) and the College of Lake County.

We also welcome direct application to the program and encourage all interested high school and college youth who are interested in sustainable agriculture to apply prior to the application deadlines.

Click here to learn more and apply to join the Prairie Farm Corps.

Job Training

PFC_JOB TRAINING_NEW_editedPrairie Farm Corps participants acquire more than sustainable agriculture experience through this youth development program. Personal and professional development is incorporated into all components of our work. We utilize every program component to develop and empower participants to thrive in future pursuits while contributing to their communities. Participants are immersed in life and employment skills development as a result of their daily responsibilities.

The Prairie Farm Corps focuses on the following job skills:

  • Interviewing
  • Communication – customer service, public speaking, attentive listening
  • Professionalism – work ethic, positive demeanor, integrity, attention to detail
  • Teamwork – collaborative problem solving, flexibility
  • Networking
  • Feedback – receiving, implementing, giving

Participant growth is measured through pre and post program surveys, to evaluate the impact of the experiential learning and active mentoring throughout the program. Education sessions are interspersed with real-world opportunities to practice these job skills.

The weekly Libertyville Farmers Market provides opportunities to work together as a team to prepare for the market, provide customer service to farmers market customers, and present sales ideas/vegetable preparation tips for specific vegetables. At the conclusion of each farmers market, each participant is given feedback using the Straight Talk method from the Boston Food Project.

Straight Talk is provided weekly for all participants, including crew leaders, to provide timely feedback. Crew leaders gain leadership skills as they learn to effectively provide constructive feedback to crew members, as well as receiving it themselves. Straight Talk is provided for all program components including field work, cooking, farmers market, and more.

Click here to learn about the overall Prairie Farm Corps curriculum and the kitchen program through two interactive presentations.

Cooking Program

img_7549In addition to learning how to grow fresh produce, Prairie Farm Corps participants also learn about nutrition and how to prepare fresh vegetables.

Each Prairie Farm Corps participant spends two weeks transforming produce fresh from the field into healthy lunches. Under the mentoring of a cooking crew leader, participants perform weekly field walks to assess what produce is available, develop a meal plan for the week, locate appropriate recipes using cookbooks and the internet, travel to a nearby grocery store to purchase necessary ingredients and prepare the meals.



img_0047“Amazing, inspirational and groundbreaking in the field of Food Education! Growing and cooking up future leaders – love it!” Lindsey Shifley, Ambassador, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution.

Click here to learn more about the Prairie Farm Corps cooking program through an interactive presentation.

Product Sales

The Prairie Farm Corps sells their certified organic produce at the Libertyville Farmers Market, and to under-resourced families in the Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Farmers Market Nutrition Program and with our partner organizations in Waukegan.

Visit the Prairie Farm Corps at the Libertyville Farmers Market on Thursdays from 7:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. starting June 23 – October 20, 2016. Be sure to ask the participants what they are learning about growing and preparing healthy food in the Prairie Farm Corps!

Through a partnership with the Lake County Health Department, Prairie Farm Corps participants distribute vegetables and share the nutrition information they are learning with recipients of WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) fresh vegetable vouchers at their Round Lake facility. In 2015 this program was expanded to also include distribution in Waukegan. Click here for more information about the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP) Distribution Project.

In 2014 the Prairie Farm Corps expanded their reach into under-served communities with a pilot project to also provide fresh vegetables to low-income Waukegan residents through a partnership with Beacon Place. Click here for more information about Prairie Farm Corps vegetable distribution site in Waukegan through the summer program at Beacon Place.

Success Stories

PFC_SUCCESS STORIES_editedSome Prairie Farm Corps participants are inspired to pursue additional opportunities in sustainable agriculture, and all Prairie Farm Corps participants:

  • Expand their abilities to grow and cook healthy food
  • Learn job skills applicable to any future field
  • Gain confidence and maturity through hard work, practical skills, and personal development
  • Increase their health through fresh vegetables and increased knowledge

The Prairie Farm Corps has made a substantial difference in the lives of participants. Click here for success stories, quotes, and statistics from Prairie Farm Corps participants.

Click here to learn more about the Prairie Farm Corps program through an interactive presentation.

Video Tour