Host Katie Wantoch and Liz Binversie, former Extension agriculture educator from Brown County, answer a question from a high school senior inquiring about a future career in agriculture and their next steps.
This is UW Extension’s Farm Management “AgriVision” podcast. I am Katie Wantoch, Agriculture Agent with UW-Madison Division of Extension. I will be chatting with fellow Extension educators as we answer questions from farmers and share our knowledge and expertise on how you can improve your farm management skills.
Today I am joined by Liz Binversie, who’s a county educator on the eastern side of the state of Wisconsin and welcome, Liz.
Yes, thanks, Katie. Thanks for having me on the podcast.
All right, Liz today the question that we received from a farmer, actually, it’s from a high school student. They are a senior, going to be this fall, and the senior lives on a 250 cow dairy farm in Central Wisconsin with their parents and two older brothers who also farm with their parents. So far, their college major is undecided but they would like a career in agriculture. They’re just not sure what they want to do. Who would you maybe suggest that they talk to you about this? It sounds like they’ve tried talking to their school guidance counselor, but didn’t give them much about agriculture and suggested they maybe major in math instead, because they’re good at math. So she is a girl this high school senior and knows a lot about ag, but to wondering about getting into college and scholarships and, and looking at future plans. So Liz, so do you have any thoughts and suggestions for her?
Sure, well, like any career, whether it’s Ag or anything else, and the most important thing is to really find what your passion is, and more in general to because I mean, obviously, you’re very early on in your life and starting to think about a career, that it’s you know, what do you like, do you like math? Do you like more of the science? Do you like working with people? Are you a little bit more introverted and you’d like to kind of work more by yourself? To try to really think about what those types of things that you enjoy are really all about. And then, a lot of these Ag careers, there’s a lot of connections with just kind of your typical careers. So if someone wanted, you know, really like math, as you mentioned, you know, maybe they think about maybe a lending or banking or finance or maybe some type of career in that area. And in agriculture, we have Ag lenders, we have Ag bankers. If someone’s really creative, and they are artistic, something along those lines, we have marketing folks that work in agricultural based companies that are marketing these agricultural products that need to be creative and have that artistic vision as well. So again, it’s you know, what’s your kind of, you know, think of your I don’t want to call it traditional niche, but I mean, what kinds of things are you interested in, and then there’s probably an ag career that would match that type of interest. So in terms of where to look, you know, I totally understand I mean, there’s a very small percentage of people that are working in agriculture. And so it’s kind of like this close knit community. So if you’re going to your guidance counselor who maybe doesn’t have that Ag background, they may not be aware of all these wonderful opportunities in agriculture. I mean, there’s hundreds of different career options in Ag. So one way that you can start learning about them, we have an Extension website that has a very small fraction of careers that are available for agriculture. But there’s some samples out there like a veterinarian, you know, an Ag banker, an agronomist, a dairy reproduction specialist. So we have some careers that are highlighted in there with roadmaps of different education requirements and experiences that would be helpful to get you on your path to becoming that type of career. There’s some really great resources out there. I know the FFA Organization has a really nice magazine of all of these, I think over 100 different Ag careers that they go into. So there are resources out there. I’d say maybe if you have an FFA chapter, talk with them, one of the advisors and I think they would have a really good handle on that as well that could help you out. You said scholarships?
Yeah, they asked about any scholarships to maybe help them with their college expenses.
Yeah, yep. There are scholarships from a lot of community based organizations. So looking at your local Farm Bureau’s, your auction committees, you know, to maybe start local ask around. And then there’s, you know, more statewide and national scholarships out there as well for maybe for larger organizations. Maybe you’re Holstein breeders or things along those lines. There is a scholarship page on the website. It’s not updated super frequently, but it gives an idea of some of the companies that have traditionally or have in the past given out scholarships, and some contact information that could maybe follow up see if they’re still continuing those programs or not. For agriculture, there’s, there should be funding out there, just because there aren’t as many people going into those careers especially on coming out from college.
All right, and do you encourage people to shadow professionals and, you know, explore some career options as well.
Oh yes, definitely if you can shadow with a veterinarian if that’s your, your passion, or if you can shadow, you know, an ag lender, if you can shadow anybody in the industry, or stop in, you know, to an agricultural company, and maybe you can actually set it up or you can see multiple different types of careers on the same building as well, that could be an option. But typically, people in these companies have been really excited that young people are interested in pursuing a career in agriculture. I think if you reached out to them that would show real initiative, and I think they’d be really impressed with that, and would be interested in showing you around and showing a little bit of the ropes.
And that’s great. Thanks, Liz. And Liz and I are both, of course, women in agriculture who are helping to pave the way for future high schoolers, like this girl here who asked our question today, whether it’s on the farm or educators like ourselves. So women are a critical part of farm operations across the country. And hopefully there’s a career for her that suits her interests and there’s opportunities for everyone, including all races, gender and ages. Well, thanks again, Liz for your time today and appreciate it.
For more Extension “AgriVision” podcasts or resources to improve your farm management skills, check out https://farms.extension.wisc.edu/. Thanks for listening.
Information in this article was originally published as part of the Agrivision column in Wisconsin Agriculturist .
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