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Looking forward to new roleLooking forward to new role

Prairie Post: On-the-job training will fill “work experience” portion of résumé.

Kevin Schulz

March 17, 2023

3 Min Read
Middle-aged man, little girl and dog walking down path away from camera
GREAT BENEFITS, NO EXPERIENCE NEEDED: I’ll be venturing down a new path with this gig as Grandpa.emholk/Getty Images

When you start a new job, you never truly know what to expect, and there’s uncertainty as to how to model yourself. You can glean from previous experiences — but if this is unfamiliar territory, it may behoove you to look to those who came before you.

Regardless how you wish to proceed, you are never truly prepared for the new job when you show up on your first day.

I achieved my new title in the middle of February, and I came in with little knowledge. From the first time I saw my new boss, I knew I was going to like her: dare I say, love her. Then I got to hold her, and I knew this little boss was going to have me wrapped around her little finger. Do not get the wrong idea; this is not an interoffice romance that is destined to fail.

This new boss is a little girl, our first grandchild, and she has stolen my heart.

Now I must wonder (fear): “Just what kind of grandpa am I going to be?”

I look back on the grandpas in my life. Most recently, I look at my own dad. He was a great dad, bringing my brother and me up right, making us work and providing for us while Mom took care of us.

Dad was an even better grandpa to our two daughters and my brother’s three girls. The time he spent with them, as he and my mom would take the girls to their favorite places and make great memories for them. He tells each of the five granddaughters, “You’re my favorite.” They each believe it, knowing full well that he tells each one of them the same.

Treasure times together

Going back another generation, I was too young when my maternal grandpa passed, so I only recall images of the large man with a crew cut donning a plain white tee. My Grandpa Schulz lived until I was in my second year of college, and they lived just a mile north of our farm, so I was blessed to spend a lot of time with him.

Whether it was fishing excursions, working in his chicken barns or helping on chicken butchering day, I really enjoyed working alongside Grandpa. Did I enjoy forking out the chicken manure? No. But it didn’t seem like work when I was alongside Grandpa.

In his last few years of his life, when cancer ravaged his body, Grandpa couldn’t do as much, and he would tire more easily. On a sweltering summer day, he and I were painting the signature homestead white fence that stretched across the front of the homeplace that passersby on County 20 could spot. He tired, and I told him I would continue while he went in to rest. He wouldn’t hear of it. We both went in for a cool soda and to watch “Joker’s Wild.”

Simple memories, but lasting ones.

So, what memories will I create for our little granddaughter, and the ones to follow? Despite Grandpa’s influence, I do not fish. Our livestock consists of barn cats and the myriad birds that flock to the feeders, as well as a resident flock of wild pheasants. The fence that outlines our pasture is cattle panels, so no whitewashing is necessary.

I will share with her my passions. I will teach her the importance of agriculture and farmers, teaching her where her food comes from. I will teach right from wrong. She will also know my passions for South Dakota State University Jackrabbits, U of Minnesota Gophers, Twins baseball and nature. And I plan to share life lessons along the way.

She will not care that I have a blank resume as a grandparent. I have no previous experience and will truly be learning on the job. I look forward to filling the “work experience” portion of my Grandpa résumé with her while we create simple, but lasting, memories.

About the Author(s)

Kevin Schulz

Editor, The Farmer

Kevin Schulz joined The Farmer as editor in January of 2023, after spending two years as senior staff writer for Dakota Farmer and Nebraska Farmer magazines. Prior to joining these two magazines, he spent six years in a similar capacity with National Hog Farmer. Prior to joining National Hog Farmer, Schulz spent a long career as the editor of The Land magazine, an agricultural-rural life publication based in Mankato, Minn.

During his tenure at The Land, the publication grew from covering 55 Minnesota counties to encompassing the entire state, as well as 30 counties in northern Iowa. Covering all facets of Minnesota and Iowa agriculture, Schulz was able to stay close to his roots as a southern Minnesota farm boy raised on a corn, soybean and hog finishing farm.

One particular area where he stayed close to his roots is working with the FFA organization.

Covering the FFA programs stayed near and dear to his heart, and he has been recognized for such coverage over the years. He has received the Minnesota FFA Communicator of the Year award, was honored with the Minnesota Honorary FFA Degree in 2014 and inducted into the Minnesota FFA Hall of Fame in 2018.

Schulz attended South Dakota State University, majoring in agricultural journalism. He was also a member of Alpha Gamma Rho fraternity and now belongs to its alumni organization.

His family continues to live on a southern Minnesota farm near where he grew up. He and his wife, Carol, have raised two daughters: Kristi, a 2014 University of Minnesota graduate who is married to Eric Van Otterloo and teaches at Mankato (Minn.) East High School, and Haley, a 2018 graduate of University of Wisconsin-River Falls. She is married to John Peake and teaches in Hayward, Wis. 

When not covering the agriculture industry on behalf of The Farmer's readers, Schulz enjoys spending time traveling with family, making it a quest to reach all 50 states — 47 so far — and three countries. He also enjoys reading, music, photography, playing basketball, and enjoying nature and campfires with friends and family.

[email protected]

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