May 22 2018 10:15 AM

If I could return to college, this is what I would get a degree in.

Across the nation, students are graduating from high school and college.

It’s been 15 years since I, myself, walked across the stage, shook hands with the dean, and received my college degree.

At that point in time, I was starting to feel the call that would lead me to become a dairy farmer, but I didn’t know for sure that it would be my destiny.

If I had known I would one day be a dairy farmer, my game plan for college would have looked like this:

1. A degree in business management.

Like a lot of dairy farmers, I grew up on a dairy farm. I learned the ins and outs of dairy cattle husbandry, starting at a very young age.

I did not, however, learn nearly enough about business management. That became woefully clear after my husband and I started our own dairy farm. Thankfully, programs like Minnesota State Farm Business Management Education exist to help farmers like us acquire essential business management skills.

2. A minor in psychology, human resource development, or coaching.

Our children are now old enough to take responsibility for some of the chores on our farm. We also recently added nonfamily employees to our team.

Whether I’m working with my husband, our children, or nonfamily employees, understanding how to communicate with, train, and motivate others is essential.

3. Study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country.

In college, I took a short course in Russia. I realized that complete immersion is the best way to learn a foreign language. Looking back, I wish I had learned Spanish through immersion.

We have hired Spanish-speaking employees in the past, and I’m guessing we will in the future. Fluency in Spanish would make me a better employer and co-worker.

I heard (and still hear) a lot of dairy farmers advise their children to get a college degree before returning home to become a partner in the family’s dairy farm.

I certainly agree with this advice, but I believe now that it’s important to attain skills and experiences that will make you a more successful dairy farmer, not just a college graduate.

Sadie Frericks

The author is a dairy farmer and writer from central Minnesota. She farms with her husband, Glen, and their three children. Sadie grew up on a dairy farm in northern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in agricultural communications and marketing. She also blogs at Dairy Good Life.