Potato Grower

April 2020

Issue link: http://read.uberflip.com/i/1224354

Contents of this Issue


Page 18 of 39

WWW.POTATOGROWER.COM 19 A TRUE AG PARTNER 4075-3BankOfCommerce12h.indd 1 2/19/20 9:00 AM specific farming skills. He could work during planting and harvest while going to school. That seems like a smart choice when he knows he wants to farm, and he is increasing that domain knowledge." Schroeder stresses that growers learn a lot of background knowledge and practical skills on the job. "I have learned a ton from my family members, our great employees and the UW extension specialists, and I am still learning from them every day," he says. Going to college is something Alex Okray of Okray Family Farms in Plover, Wis., always wanted to do. There was no push from his parents, though they were supportive and happy he wanted to continue his education. "As far as returning to the farm, they encouraged me to join the business, but I never felt forced into it," Okray says. "My parents wanted me to do whatever I wanted in my life, but they also wanted to make sure I knew that the farm was a very special and rare opportunity that not many people get." Though Okray recognizes higher education as a great path, he indicates having no problem with someone choosing to go straight into the family business, "as long as they have the right attitude." TAKING RESPONSIBILITY "Treat it as you would any other job," suggests Okray, who holds a bachelor's degree in business administration. "Work hard, hold yourself accountable and take responsibility for what needs to be done. I'm glad I chose to go to school before working for the farm. I really feel like I gained a lot by moving away from home for a few years and being off on my own." Okray currently takes care of the company financials and human resources, areas that align with what he studied in college, and says he enjoys those parts of the business. "Of course, being a family member, I try to get involved in everything that's going on," he says. "Anyone who works for their family business needs to know how the whole operation works." Outside of his main job responsibilities, Okray spends time working in the packing shed, driving potato trucks, listening in on sales calls and discussing strategies with managers and owners. "I am happy that I decided to work for the farm," he says. "It's a job, and the work isn't always fun, but I'm aware that there are certain benefits that come along with working for your family's business." Dykstra says she looks at her college degree as helping to lay the foundation for a lifetime of learning she's yet to achieve. "We all have so many opportunities to learn everyday through school, on-the-job training, colleagues, family and friends," she says. "I feel the degree I earned was just an intro to farming," Gagas concurs. "You learn every day being in the fields, much better than you do through textbooks and pictures. I don't regret going to school, but the best education is on-the-job experience, in my opinion, and that goes for any profession. Nobody will ever stop learning."

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Potato Grower - April 2020