For inmates leaving prison, reintegrating into the community is a challenging transition — not only in Virginia, but nationwide. After spending time behind bars, prisoners can find it difficult to reconnect with family members, find employment, and resist the behavior that resulted in their imprisonment.
Virginia Cooperative Extension agents in Central Virginia had already been working with the staff and inmates at the greenhouse and garden facilities at Rustburg Correctional Unit 9 in Campbell County for several years and saw a need to further support inmates in their community re-entry efforts. They decided to implement a pesticide applicator certification program designed to equip inmates with job skills to make it easier for them to find employment upon their release.
The certification program is a collaborative effort between the Virginia Department of Corrections, Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and Virginia Cooperative Extension.