Ride to Farm is an annual bike-a-thon to raise awareness and funds for the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The school’s mission is “If you have a dream to farm, we’re here to help you get started.” The WSBDF emphasizes business planning and pasture-based farm management.
“Every young farmer who is successful in starting a business adds to the economic strength of their communities, the public schools, and the collective knowledge, enthusiasm and hope for the next generation on the land.”
On June 6 individual bike-a-thon participants and teams will take pledges to raise funds for tuition scholarships and internship expenses, scholarships for student travel to conferences, honoraria for farmers who help teach this course, and long-term support for the school through its endowment at UW-Madison. Social media share links encourage constituents to share the event with friends, and a personal control panel allows them to manage their crowdfunding page, email friends and add off-line pledges.
“Retiring farmers are leaving farming at a much faster rate than new farmers are starting. Our school meets the critical need to train, mentor, and support Wisconsin’s next generation of dairy and livestock farmer stewards who will work to ensure the availability of local food and healthy rural communities. Our dairy and livestock seminar emphasizes low-capital, environmentally friendly, grass-based dairy farming. About 400 students have attended the school and more than 75 percent of its graduates are farming today!”
A graduate had this to share of the program: “By taking this grazing seminar and getting (pleasantly) plunged into a huge pool of knowledgeable people who are very ‘fore-thinking’ has been extremely liberating. Speakers who have made presentations to us have come from the context of ‘why not?’ instead of ‘we can’t do that.’ The network associated with WSBDF is tremendous, and it steps up the process of working through logistical planning because we have had this opportunity to talk to people who have tried things and found out what works. I have so much in common with all of these bright people who also have farm goals. The most amazing thing so far has been the enthusiasm and willingness to share information that comes from the grazing community.”
A bike-a-thon is a crowdfunding event much like a walk-a-thon, however instead of walking, participants are biking for your cause. Participants bike a predetermined course and commit to raising money for your organization. Bike-a-thon fundraising software has become popular in recent years as people have become more conscious of conservation, and look for more efficient means of transportation such as biking or public transit. The MS Bike-a-thon and The American Cancer Society Bike-a-thon are of the largest charity bike-a-thon events.