Farmer - My Path to Success

By: Amy Gorzynski

Introduction

Growing up in the Midwest, I've always been interested in farming, but I never quite understood what farmers do. I like the lifestyle they lead and want to live out in the country where it's quieter and life goes at a slower pace. I know that farmers work in the fields raising crops and/or livestock. It's a hard job but I really enjoy working outside and with my hands so I think this is a good fit.

Career Research

Daily Tasks and Responsibilities
  • Supervise all steps of the crop production and ranging process, including planting, fertilizing, harvesting, and herding
  • Determine how to raise crops or livestock according to factors such as market conditions and soil conditions
  • Select and purchase supplies, such as seed, fertilizers, and farm equipment
  • Repair farm equipment so it cultivates, harvests, and hauls crops


Work Environment

The work environment for farmers can be dangerous. Tractors and other farm machinery can cause serious injury, so workers must be alert on the job. They must be able to operate equipment and handle chemicals properly to avoid accidents.


Education and Training

Not everyone who works in agribusiness has the opportunity to grow up on a farm or ranch. Many receive their agricultural work experience from on-the-job training and college courses in agriculture. Both will prove valuable to those preparing for a career in agribusiness. In order to become a farmer, a college degree is not required but it is definitely preferred. Dan Smith, from the USDA, notes that "78% of successful farmers have a Bachelor's Degree in Agriculture."


Preferred Job Skills


  • Instructing — Teaching others how to do something
  • Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions
  • Equipment Maintenance — Performing routine maintenance on equipment and determining when and what kind of maintenance is needed
  • Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times
  • Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively


Job Outlook

Decrease 3% or more by 2022


Salary

$68,050 per year

A Day on the Farm

High School Preparation

Courses

Many high schools, especially in rural areas, offer classes in agriculture, however, in this area they are not common. But, while Leyden doesn't offer specific classes in agriculture, it does offer other courses that would be beneficial like:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Woods and Construction


According to an article by US News and World Report, high school students can develop many of the skills needed by farmers, like basic math and communication skills, in their core classes like Algebra and English.


Extra-Curricular Activities



Work/Volunteer Experience

Although there aren't many farms in this area, there are quite a few within 30 miles of Chicago. Working with animals at a local zoo or volunteering at the farmer's market would also be helpful.

References

  1. Meg Goins - Social Worker at East Leyden High School
  2. Amy Gorzynski - Business Education Teacher at East Leyden High School
  3. Thomas Cerasani - Varsity Football Coach at Leyden High School
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My Post-Secondary Plan

Traditionally, many farmers are born into family farming businesses. Their experience is gained through observation and hands-on experience from the time they're children. However, the modernization of the farming industry has made it more necessary for farmers and ranchers to receive formal education and training as well.


A potential farmer can:


  • enroll in a university or college and major in programs such as agricultural economics, agriculture, farm management or dairy science
  • pursue an associate's degree and take classes in animal science, conservation of natural resources, farmer science and principles of horticulture.
  • pursue a bachelor's degree program may consist of courses in agricultural economics and agricultural business management.


Certificate programs in agriculture are also available and may be ideal for those already working in the field of agriculture and wishing to expand their knowledge in specific areas, such as organic farming. Courses of study may include plant diseases, organic farming, nutritional science, food quality and safety, crop development and soil fertility.


In order to become a farmer a college education is not required but it is highly recommended. If you are interested in the field, you should definitely think about going to college. You can earn a degree in agriculture from:


  1. Illinois State University
  2. University of Illinois
  3. Northern Illinois University

Conclusion

Throughout the entire career research process, I learned that utilizing as many resources as possible is the best way to go! I found a lot of valuable information on websites like bls.gov and Naviance, but I learned the most by talking to people. I had the opportunity to interview cattle farmer in northern Illinois and speak to faculty member in the Agriculture department at Illinois State University. The knowledge and expertise they shared, really help me make sense of the career. Now I know for sure that I want to pursue a career as a farmer!