Early career agribusiness professional development training series 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.

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. As the current agribusiness workforce ages and many retire, our land grant universities have fewer graduates with practical hands-on farm experience to fill those positions. Michigan State University Extension’s series, “Bridging the Experience Gap”, provides early career agribusiness professionals with hands-on training and experience in many different aspects of agriculture.

This series, held in August and September 2017, 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. 14 and 29 and Sept. 11 and 26 at the MSU Saginaw Valley Research and Extension Center.

Who should be involved?

Bridging the Experience Gap features an opportunity for those 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 have noted they found the program to be valuable to young professionals just starting in the agricultural 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 the equipment from farmers and have the opportunity to test drive commercial implements.
  • Livestock, food safety and food processing. Take a tour of some of the leading agriculture processors in Michigan and visit livestock farms.
  • Farm technology and communication strategies. 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.
  • Michigan sugar, potatoes and farm financial management. Take a tour of Michigan Sugar Company and learn about the impact this industry has on Michigan agriculture. Visit a potato farm and experience how they are involved in the value chain. Also, learn about farm financial management strategies and challenges.

Agribusiness professionals interested in attending this cutting-edge program should register on-line at Bridging the Experience Gap. The deadline for registration is July 31, 2017, and space is limited. 

For more information on this program, contact me, Phil Kaatz, at kaatz@msu.edu or 810-667-0341.

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