Farm experiences grow stronger students

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In preparation for the Ag-Bio career fair a few weeks ago, I was revamping my resume and adding my recent summer internship. I was running out of space, so I decided to take off my oldest job listed — my family farm.

I never held a typical high school job when I lived at home. The farm — and my Dad — demanded I stay home and help out. I never got paid.

That farm experience has always been a great conversation starter with interviewers, especially since it listed my heavy machinery operating skills.

But more importantly, it reminded me why I chose a career in agriculture. Even as I added internships and experiences, it humbled me to look at that first job on my resume and think of my roots back home.

When I started college two years ago, I went to the career fair with three work experiences on my resume: FFA Chapter President, some ranch work I did one summer and my five-year “employment” working for my dad on our farm. Now, the first two are long gone, but the family farm made itself comfortable on the list with newer jobs and internships.

My farm experience may not be immediately visible now, but like many former farm kids, my work ethic and life skills gained in the fields shines through in a professional setting.

I am comfortable working with farmers and ranchers as marketing clients because they were my co-workers, bosses and mentors when I grew up.

I get to work on time because most farms operate 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. instead of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

I have done the worst jobs in the worst places with the worst sights and smells without complaining (who am I kidding – my dad reads these. I still got the job done.).

Needless to say, farming is tough — but that’s why it builds great students and future agriculture professionals. It takes a lot to stay passionate about an industry that keeps you up all night out in the dust and dirt.

The goal of going to college is growth. It might be bittersweet to finally take the farm off your resume, but it means that goal is being achieved.

Farm experience is valuable, whether the farm you were raised on grew corn, beans or beef, it also grew a better student. The life lessons I learned back home on the farm are skills that I still carry with me now.

The family farm is more than just a job. Let it grow you into an outstanding agriculture professional.

Katie Berndt is an agricultural communications major and can be reached at katelyn.berndt@jacks.sdstate.edu.

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