Think farming involves nothing but milking cows and shoveling manure? Think again. Today's farms offer a wide variety of career opportunities.
My dad was a tough man with hands like bricks and skin weathered by summers of working in the sun. When I was a kid with a keen interest in books and barn kitties, I did my best to avoid chores – but Dad's deep, booming voice could easily jolt me out of my reading coma, down the wooden stairs of our old farm house, and out the back door in seconds.
Like many men of Dad’s generation, he showed love for his family not so much in words but through hard work. He provided for my mom and my 10 siblings by working full-time as a train engineer at the local paper mill and by working another full-time job – farming.
When my father passed away two years ago, his mind was razor-blade sharp, but his body had long given out. Day after day of milking cows and cleaning the barn had been rough on him, and he used a walker for many of his later years – so many years that it’s hard for me to picture him without it.
Yes, farming can be hard, but there’s something about the land and animals that makes it all worth it. And I know my dad would agree.
Of course farming today is lot different than the farming I remember. It involves more high-tech tools and equipment and much less difficult manual labor.
I was pretty excited to sit down recently with Dr. Amy Kox, associate dean of the energy and agriculture programs at NWTC, to talk about the new Farm Production programs at the College. When I asked her the one thing to know about modern-day farming, she said this: “The one thing I wish people knew is that farming is more than just milking cows.”
“There are so many career opportunities in related fields,” she added. “It’s about how we eat and how our land is conserved. Being on a farm is just one environment you can work in.”
Amy named many different farming areas one could work in – co-ops, land certification, animal nutrition, milking, artificial insemination, and so many more than this slow note taker could possibly capture on paper.
“These are jobs with benefits, schedules, and vacation days,” Amy said. “In that way, farming is like any other business.”
I walked away from my meeting with Amy sure of this: If you have an interest in any area of farming, you can find your niche. If you want to be a steward of the land, there's a place for you in farming. If you want to provide consumers with good food for their families, farming has a place for you.
Learn more about NWTC’s four new Farm Production programs.
As the associate dean for the energy and agriculture programs in the Trades and Engineering Technologies Department, Amy works with instructors to ensure that they have the resources they need to teach their students. Her favorite part of her job is seeing students achieve the success that comes with graduation and launching their careers. Outside of NWTC, Amy enjoys spending time gardening and hanging out with her two young adult children and three dogs.