What is the best advice to a future farmer in college? This question emerged from a conference in the Midwest where a number of the participants were young and beginning producers or students that were still enrolled in high school or college.
If you are a college sophomore or junior, I would suggest getting an internship to obtain some experience in your area of interest. This internship should be outside your family’s farm business with a company that has a reputation for a good work culture and a formal and proactive management mindset. The internship should have specific job responsibilities and accountabilities.
A young future farmer may want to explore an internship with an agribusiness firm or agricultural lending institution. This experience could provide a broader perspective of many different practices on numerous business operations.
While in school, attempt to be exposed to biological and earth sciences, but also explore courses in business, economics, and communication. Classes that have a reputation of being well taught by a professor who is engaged in practical applications can be very beneficial.
If you are exploring the value-added agriculture route, entrepreneurship, business, and marketing classes can be valuable. Commodity oriented agriculture requires a nice balance of agronomy and animal sciences with a foundation in business, marketing, and economics.
Involvement in judging teams or business management debate contests can be challenging but can provide a foundation for critical thinking and communicating a position or stance. These activities can also help to broaden your network of relationships which will be helpful after graduation.
Finally, a good personal finance course can be valuable and very useful. Knowing how to budget and live within one's means will be a critical step in a young farmer's success.
The opinions of Dr. David Kohl are not necessarily those of Farm Progress.