DGA is the first registered Apprenticeship for farming in the United States.

Find an option that works for you: Apprenticeship or Internship

Dairy Grazing Apprenticeship is a National Apprenticeship registered with the U.S. Department of Labor-Employment and Training Administration. This innovative program consists of full-time paid employment, comprehensive training in all aspects of running a managed grazing dairy operation, and the experience needed to transition to dairy farm business ownership.

DGA provides a career pathway for aspiring dairy farmers, managers, and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, with different levels of experience. The program is also ideal for established dairy graziers who want to develop a current employee as a manager or partner as well as for family members seeking a structure of support to prepare for farm transfer.


At the core of the two-year Apprenticeship is 3700 hours of on-farm employment and training under an approved Mentor Dairy Grazier with opportunities for advancement upon completion. A comprehensive DGA Training Guidelines lays out the competencies that must be met in order to own and operate a managed-grazing dairy farm or business, providing a blueprint for the mentoring process.

Minimum requirements

  • Must have a minimum of a high school diploma or GED, or a composite score on the ACT of at least 18, or minimum Accuplacer test scores in math and reading.
  • Must be not less than 18 years of age.
  • Must be physically able to perform the work of the trade with reasonable accommodations and without hazard to themselves or others.
  • Must have reliable transportation to and from work and school.

Major work categories are as follows:

  • Manage dairy cattle in a grazing system
  • Manage milking operations
  • Manage dairy cattle nutritional requirements
  • Manage pastures for optimal production
  • Manage natural resources in a grazing system
  • Manage farm business operations to meet goals

Related Instruction

Core courses have been developed specifically for Apprentices and are taught in an online format through Managed Grazing Innovation Center to enhance on-farm training and provide networking opportunities. The program incorporates 300 hours of related instruction:

  • Courses in Dairy Cattle Nutrition, Feeds & Feeding, Milk Quality, Dairy Cattle Health & Wellness, Soil & Water Resources Management, Farm Financial Management, and Managed Grazing Systems for Dairy Cattle
  • Peer Discussion Groups, Pasture Walks, Farming Conferences, and Networking Opportunities
  • Holistic Management and Professional Development Training

Note: Apprentices are responsible for their own tuition, which is approximately $1,500 over two years and subject to change.

Each Mentor Dairy Grazier-Apprentice pair is assigned a local Education Coordinator, who monitors the mentoring relationship and provides educational support and on-farm technical services. Apprentices not only gain skills, knowledge, and experience but also develop relationships with Apprentices and Mentors in their cohort as well as with other dairy farmers, agricultural professionals, and service providers in the local community.

Apprentices graduate to certified Journey Dairy Grazier status, receive additional support services as they advance in their career as Herd Manager/ Pasture Manager/ Feed or Hay Manager/ Heifer or Young Stock Manager. The long-term option is also available for graduates to transition into farm ownership, become Mentors themselves, and take on new Apprentices.


A shorter paid Internship allows Mentors and potential Apprentices to test a relationship before committing to a full Apprenticehship. It also provides students and others with an opportunity to learn about managed grazing dairy production on a working dairy farm.

  • An Internship can start any time of year and ranges from 240 to 480 total hours.
  • Interns work for and are mentored by approved Mentor Dairy Graziers anywhere in the DGA network.
  • Interns must be at least 18 years old (unless entering through Youth Apprenticeship*).
  • Courses taken during Internship may be credited toward Apprenticeship related instruction hours (as well as college credit if entering through a university).
  • Up to 480 on-farm work hours and 12 weeks time during Internship may be applied toward an Apprenticeship.
  • A DGA Education Coordinator provides guidance and oversight during the Internship.

* Youth Apprenticeship programs are administered by public school districts and are available to students at participating high schools. Allowable on-farm work hours and time during a Youth Apprenticeship may be applied to an Apprenticeship once an individual reaches 18 years of age.

To be considered, just choose the Internship option when you fill out the Apprentice application.

Learn More:

Dairy Grazing Apprentice Mentor
Dairy Grazier

Transitioning to the next stage

DGA is an approved vendor for Farm Service Agency's borrower training program required for FSA beginning farmer loan agreements.

Apprenticeship curriculum includes a 12-week Farm Business Management course.

Opportunities are available to Journey Dairy Graziers to advance into management, equity earning, farm start-up or farm transfer.

DGA Today

DGA has approved 200+ Mentor Dairy Graziers in 15 states: Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin.

DGA has provided more than 750,000 hours of on-farm training and related coursework in managed grazing dairy production to hundreds of aspiring farmers from across the nation. The program currently has 46 active Mentor Dairy Grazier-Apprentice pairs, 67 Journey Dairy Graziers, and 120 Apprentice Candidates seeking to be hired.

Contact for Staff and Education Coordinators

Board of Directors and National Apprenticeship Training Committee

MAP of Approved Mentor Dairy Grazier Farm Sites

Managed Grazing Innovation Center

Featured Farms

Job Board

DGA is proud to provide current and former military service members and their families with opportunities to learn about managed grazing dairy production.

GI BillĀ® approved.

GI BillĀ® Hotline for specific GI Bill questions: 888-442-4551

Questions about DGA?
Contact: Angie Sullivan
Apprenticeship Director
Phone: 715-553-0364

DGA Veterans Brochure
DGA Veterans Brochure (Spanish)
GI Benefits for Apprenticeships


Public Resources
Veteran Resources

Do you know someone who might be interested in DGA? Spread the word and share the documents below:

General Program Brochure
General Program Brochure (Spanish)
MGIC Insert
Internship Insert

See our full MEDIA KIT for more downloads.

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