ISU Ag Career Day- Not Just for Agribusiness Anymore
What is your Practical Farmers staff up to? A couple recently spent the day at Iowa State University Ag Career Day. Big thank to beginning farmer Ellen Walsh-Rosmann of Rosmann Family Farms & Pin Oak Place near Harlan, and her infant son Xavier. They graciously spent the day talking about Practical Farmers with interested students.
For the second consecutive year Practical Farmers had a booth at ISU’s Ag Career Day in the Lied Recreation Athletic Center. Scores of ag-related companies and organizations with nifty booths, proprietary trinkets, and engaging staff with matching outfits discuss job and internship opportunities with students. (Click here for a link to the list of participants) Students in the ISU College of Agriculture and Life Sciences get dressed to the nine’s and spend the day giving elevator speeches and handing-out resumes.
Of note was the increased interest in Practical Farmers this year. Many students specifically searched for the Practical Farmers booth after seeing us on the list of participants. Typically they heard of us from other students, news pieces, field days, farmers, or classroom presentations. They wanted to know more about us, our membership, and how we operate. Ellen noticed that cover crops really brought them over. Kudos to our Board, members and staff working on outreach- it is making an impact.
Many other students wanted to know what jobs and internships we were recruiting for. It is a job fair after all, so our “none” response was out of place. This is where the uniqueness of Practical Farmer’s participation in the event emerged. At one of the best agriculture schools in the world Practical Farmers was the only organization there to discuss a career in farming.
Our stump speech became something like “we are here to support those who want to farm and to promote farming as a career” and typically included the question “do YOU want to farm?” Ellen says in the future we need a huge banner that asks that question as our backdrop. The response was almost universal and indicative of the current agricultural climate. An informal synopsis:
“Well yes, but I can’t. It isn’t really possible anymore. I hope to get a job that keeps me close to farming and someday I could do it on the side, or if I work hard I can retire early and start farming.” Usually said with an aw shucks grin, but with the conviction of someone well-educated on the topic. We heard it constantly.
After explaining how the Practical Farmers network can help, we would ask about their farming plans and dreams. They would light-up and talk about a lifetime working on the family farm and what they would add or change if they could go back. As we have found with the Savings Incentive Program, which recently collected over 40 applications, beginning farmers in Iowa have incredibly broad and diverse interests and skills. They just need to be told a career in farming possible and have useful resources at their disposal.