Will Gabbert found the perfect career mixing time in an office and time outdoors. As a certified general appraiser for FCS Financial in Missouri, he evaluates row crop operations, livestock enterprises and even recreational land.
Gabbert grew up on a hobby farm and ran a row crop enterprise with his brother outside of Sedalia, Mo., so he understands agriculture. But as an avid hunter and outdoorsman, he understands buyers wanting land assessed for recreational purposes.
His ability to view all properties and see value from every angle landed him a unique job.
Road to appraiser
Not many young people know of a career as an agriculture or rural appraiser. Actually, Gabbert learned about it from his dad, Kevin, who also works with FCS Financial.
“He graduated college and started working with FCS,” the younger Gabbert says of his father. “I saw the great experience he had, he’s made a career out of it, and asked what he could see me doing in this line of work. He said, ‘I think being an appraiser would suit you really well.’”
That was in high school. Gabbert attended college on a soccer scholarship to Concordia University in Nebraska. He took classes in agriculture and business, but found there were no classes specifically deemed “appraisal” work. So, he obtained an ag business degree.
During the summers, the Pettis County native would come home and work with an appraiser. For the first three summers, Gabbert was just trying to “get a feel for the whole appraising career.” But before the last summer, he took a test that allowed him to start counting his “trainee” hours needed to obtain an appraiser license.
Gabbert started working at FCS Financial in 2016 right out of college, but he points out there was more learning on the horizon. “There were about three years’ worth of classes I took, tests I passed to get my certified general license in May of 2019,” he explains. And for the 27-year-old, it was worth it.
Merging passion with career
When Gabbert is not working, he is spending time outdoors. “I grew up hunting and fishing,” he says. “But I really am into deer hunting, specifically with a bow.”
It is a hobby that helps his career.
FCS Financial lends not only to individuals wanting to buy land to plant row crops, but also to those who are looking for recreational ground. “Being on that side and understanding how hunters think, how they're looking at a farm and how a farm sets up specifically for hunting has really helped here recently,” Gabbert says. Since COVID-19 hit, he says the recreation market has “taken off.”
“We had a lot of people talking about how they wanted to get out of the cities and find a place they could go out and enjoy and also hunt,” Gabbert says. Being able to understand that mindset and communicate with them is beneficial especially when appraising land, because often how avid hunters view value is not the same as a farmer or even the market.
“There is value in a farm that is set up perfectly for food plots and hunting stands,” Gabbert says. “But the market is still going to determine the value of land.”
Loving the job
Gabbert enjoys the life of an appraiser. “It’s the flexibility that this career offers that I think is one of the biggest draws,” he says. “There are many options that go along with it.”
He notes that people who like agriculture and rural life can focus on these specific properties, while those in the city can focus on homes or commercial real estate. Appraisers can work for a company or be self-employed.
“FCS is the right choice for me,” he says. “It was the perfect mix of office time and being out on the farm meeting with people. Meeting with farmers and getting to know their operations I think is a lot of fun because everybody does things differently, so being able to see how people manage their whole operation is really cool.”
Finding more than family
Gabbert grew up in a large family that included four other siblings. However, his parents thought one more child needed a forever home. So, a young boy from Poland came to his small hobby farm in Missouri and stayed.
“When they told all of us, I remember being like, ‘Are you serious?’” he recalls. At that time, Gabbert was 19. “Basically, I was telling them to be selfish and take time for themselves. I was really closed-minded. I didn’t understand the need to bring someone else into our group,” Gabbert says, shaking his head. “Now, I can’t imagine our family ever without him. He fits into our family so well; he’s just another little brother.”
Emil came to the Gabbert family at age 10. The one thing they all bonded over was sports. “He loves soccer,” Gabbert says. “From there it went to the hunting side of things. He ate it up. A little kid over in Poland was never able to experience anything like it.”
Emil’s first hunting trip was with Gabbert’s father. But soon the young boy was tagging along with the younger Gabbert, checking trail cameras and filling feeders. “It’s just been a really great experience,” Gabbert adds. “It taught me to go into things more with an open mind and realize that there can be a lot of really great things that come when we step out of our comfort zones.”
And when it comes to growing a family, Gabbert and his wife, Riley, are set to welcome their first child in a new town. The couple moved northwest to Stanberry, Mo., and live just 5 miles north of Gabbert’s original family farm.
“We’re really excited to raise our child in a small, tight-knit community surrounding by family,” he says. And he will still be working as an appraiser for FCS Financial and hunting on the side.
If his life experiences have taught him anything so far, it is family, however it is made up, is important.