First Nations created the Native Agriculture and Food Systems Initiative (NAFSI) Scholarship Program to encourage more Native American college students to enter agriculture and agriculture-related fields. The purpose of the scholarship program is to increase the number of Native American college students entering agriculture and agriculture-related fields. Many farmers, ranchers, herders and others are retiring without qualified replacements trained to take their place. According to the USDA, the number of farmers and ranchers nearing retirement age has grown by 22 percent in the past five years, while the number of young farmers and ranchers adequately trained to replace them has decreased by 14 percent. The lack of qualified replacements in these industries could have potentially dangerous effects on efforts to reclaim control of local Native food systems. These scholarships are one way to begin turning the tide of decreasing interest among Native youth in careers related to agriculture and food.
For the 2018-2019 academic year, First Nations is awarding five scholarships of $1,000 each to Native American students who are assisting their communities in regaining control of local and traditional food systems.