Early career agribusiness professional development training available

Bridging the Experience Gap is an educational program for young professionals involved in agriculture who want to sharpen their skills and better understand production systems.

Past participants observing sugar beet harvesting.
Past participants observing sugar beet harvesting. Photo by Phil Kaatz, MSU Extension.

When new agribusiness employees begin to visit farms as part of their work duties, farmers indicate they prefer interacting with agribusiness professionals who have some practical on-farm knowledge. When agribusiness graduates enter the workforce, there are fewer graduates with practical hands-on farm experience to fill available positions. Michigan State University Extension’s Bridging the Experience Gap program series provides early career agribusiness professionals with hands-on training and experience in many different aspects of agriculture.

Bridging the Experience Gap, held in August and September 2019, will provide a framework of experiences and education to enhance training done by their employers in areas rarely addressed by company training programs. The program will take place Aug. 20 and 21, and Sept. 17 and 18 at the MSU Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center, 3775 S Reese Rd. Frankenmuth, MI 48734.

Who should be involved?

Bridging the Experience Gap features an opportunity for those who are involved with sales, marketing, finance and lending, agronomy, seed and chemical supplies, or anything else involved with Michigan’s thriving agriculture economy to gain experience and network with their peers. Former participants noted they found the program to be valuable to young professionals just starting in the agriculture industry, especially those who have experience outside of production agriculture, allowing them—and anyone else—to further their knowledge of agriculture/food processing. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and learn from knowledgeable instructors and educators without fear of rejection or criticism.

What should you expect?

Individuals who participate will have a combination of hands-on learning activities, classroom-based instruction and excellent industry tours to enhance their experience and knowledge.

Four day-long sessions will feature:

  • Cropping systems, soils and agriculture equipment. Learn about equipment from farmers and test drive commercial implements.
  • Communication strategies and precision technologies. Learn about the latest precision agriculture technology and the future trends for our production systems. Learn how to have effective conversations with farmers and others in related agriculture fields.
  • Fruit, value-added agriculture, food safety and food processing. Take a tour of some of the leading agriculture processors in Michigan and visit livestock farms.
  • Michigan sugar, organic production and farm financial management. Take a tour of Michigan Sugar Company, plus the increasing value of organic farming enterprises. Participants will also learn about farm financial management strategies and challenges.

Agribusiness professionals interested in attending this cutting-edge program can register online at 2019 Bridging the Experience Gap. The deadline for registration is Aug. 9, 2019 and space is limited.

For more information on this program, contact Phil Kaatz, MSU Extension educator at kaatz@msu.edu or 810-667-0341, or Bob Battel, MSU Extension educator at battelro@msu.edu or 989-672-3870.


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