Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Choosing a Degree before Farming

It is hard for me to believe that my time at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln is about to come to an end! On December 15th, I will officially be ending my college career and entering the workforce as I graduate with a degree in agricultural economics and a minor in international agriculture. As I begin the next chapter of my life working in agribusiness for Cooperative Producers Inc., I will also begin farming. Ever since I was a little tike, I always dreamed of being a farmer when I grew up and now that dream becomes reality!

Yet, it's interesting when I tell people what I plan on doing after I graduate college. I won't forget the time a friend asked me what I planned on doing after college.

Friend: "So what do you plan on doing after you graduate college?"
Me: "Well, possibly do something in Ag business for a little bit, but most likely go back to the farm."
Friend: "Really, you're going to farm? That seems like a waste of four years and tuition money." 

That last statement by my friend put me in shock. I couldn't believe they thought that going to college was a waste of time and money if I was planning to become a farmer after college. However, it made me start thinking about whether or not going to college was really worth it if all I wanted to do was farm. I mean, yea, I could have went straight into farming and saved money that instead was spent on an education. Yet, the more I thought about it, I realized that going to college and getting a degree was actually going to benefit me in the long run, whether or not I farmed.

So why then should someone, who is wanting to become a farmer, choose to get an education instead of working on the farm right after graduating high school? Well, I can think of a lot of reasons actually. The first reason I can think of is that going to college allows a person to broaden their education, do things that they might not have been able to do before, such as studying abroad. Second, college allows a person to network with new people and even companies and organizations that they may want to get involved with later in life. For example, I was able to network with farm organizations, such as the Nebraska Corn Board, which I hope to some day possibly get involved with. Third, I was able to take classes that will help me be a successful farmer in the future by being able to understand finances, markets, policy, and agronomy. For instance, I took farm and ranch management classes, commodity marketing classes, and other financial classes. I even took a soil science and plant science class. Fourth, it allows a person to get away from the farm for a little bit and experience life in different ways, such as living in the city. I think getting off the farm for a little bit also makes a person appreciate the type of life a farmer lives. I know it made me appreciate my family's farm life. And the fifth and final reason why going to college instead of farming right away is that a person can get a degree that they will always have. Like anything in life, you aren't always guaranteed the opportunity to farm. Unfortunately with farming there is always the chance of a farmer getting injured, which might not allow them to farm anymore. Yet, if they have a degree, there is a good chance that they will be able to find a good job in something else whereas a farmer with no degree might have a hard time finding a job.

So if you or someone you know is considering becoming a farmer, but aren't sure if they want to go to college first, show them these five reason on what a college education can do for them. This might make them consider getting an education before becoming one of America's many hardworking farmers and ranchers!

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