As I go through my senior year of college and begin the search for my first full-time job after graduation, I reflect on all the skills and lessons that helped me to reach this point. I have been so incredibly fortunate to have held many internship positions and jobs throughout college and high school that helped me to learn and grow. Most importantly, I find that many of my essential skills came from my time spent participating in agricultural activities.
Working on my neighbor’s dairy farm taught me how to work hard. This may seem like the most obvious lesson, since those in the agricultural community already know the grit and determination it takes to continue the day-to-day work on a farm. This work ethic has translated well into my time at college, because it has shown me that if I put in the effort and time, I will see good results, just like how farmers raise healthy calves and feed the cows every day to yield a healthy and nutritious product.
Next, I learned how to not fear trying new things. I was so incredibly fortunate to have gained experiences in agriculture, but that came with a lot of learning. I had to learn about the milking process and the importance of ensuring each step is included and well done. I learned about the various crops and ingredients it takes to properly balance rations. Now I know that wherever I am in the world, there is always more learning to be done, and I shouldn’t be afraid to put myself out there and try it.Organizations such as FFA and 4-H give youth an incredible advantage throughout life, no matter if you are looking to work for a company or return to the family farm. I gained confidence in myself and learned more about how to collect and organize my thoughts and present them to others. Whether it is business meetings or a gathering of farmers at the local co-op, being able to speak up and share your opinion and thoughts is an incredibly valuable skill.
I could go on about how every FFA speaking event or farm chore helps to teach a certain lesson, but just know that an agricultural background prepares you to be successful no matter what path you choose in the future. Even if you don’t particularly notice those strengths, it will be recognized by those who work around you.
Mikayla grew up near Osceola, Wis. She discovered her passion for the dairy industry while working on her neighbors’ Holstein dairy farm. That spurred her involvement in 4-H and FFA, and following graduation from Osceola High School, she headed to the University of Minnesota to pursue a degree in agricultural communication and marketing. During the school year, she worked as a website designer for the University of Minnesota department of animal science, and last summer, she was a farmer relations intern for Midwest Dairy. Peper served as the 2022 Hoard’s Dairyman editorial intern.