If you've farmed long enough to be a Master Farmer, you've likely lived long enough to have a few words of wisdom to pass along to someone else. Jim Mintert, Purdue University's director of the Center for Commercial Agriculture, sought out those answers while emceeing a panel of the new Master Farmers recently.
The discussion was held at Jay County High School in the middle of the Indiana Farm Management Tour. The panel also included Chris Hurt, receiving his honorary Master Farmer award. The Master Farmer program is sponsored by Indiana Prairie Farmer and the Purdue University College of Agriculture.
Mintert directed the question to Hurt first, asking him what advice he would give students.
Hurt, West Lafayette: The best advice I can give is to follow what you love to do. I typically ask a student in for counseling what he or she would be doing right then if they could do anything they wanted to do. Sometimes that helps figure out what they are really most passionate about in life."
Mintert asked the Master Farmers to tell what advice they would give to someone beginning their career in farming today.
Terry Hayhurst, Terre Haute: Take your gift God gives you. Everyone has a gift. Mine happens to be farming, and I am blessed to be able to be doing it."
Susan Hayhurst, Terre Haute: "We've taught our daughters to pursue their passions. It's taking them in very different directions. What's important is that you pursue what you are passionate about."
Carol Kohlhagen, Rensselaer: "They need to learn that they need mentors along the way. They need to find people who have their same passion and learn from them. They also need encouragers who can encourage them in the Lord."
Richard Kohlhagen, Rensselaer: I believe in education. You have a passion for something. I still drive a school bus, with kids form every grade, and I still teach them. Young people are important- they are the future. What young people need to know is that education can be beneficial. Counselors at school can help them a lot. At the same time, technology is the future too.
Mike Flock, Ramsey: "My advice is to find what you want to do, and study it. Learn as much as you can about it. If you know what you want to do and where to find people that can help you learn it, you are way ahead of just about everybody else."
Jan Heckaman, Argos: "Find a passion and find a person you can count on to be there and help you along the way."
Mintert: "The common theme here is obvious. The best advice for students or someone wanting to get into farming or any career is to have passion. Know what it is that you really want to do. Then find someone who can mentor you, and help you learn what you need to know so that you can follow that passion successfully."