Farm management training comes in many forms
Other than post-secondary education, what agriculture learning endeavours (course, travel, online, other) have had the biggest impact on you and your farm?
Business boot camp
At the beginning of my career, I participated in a 24-hour boot camp organized by l’École d’Entrepreneurship de Beauce. We did an exercise called Dynamix to determine our entrepreneur profile. This exercise was very revealing for me and allowed me to identify my strengths and talents.
It especially helped me understand that I should exploit my talents – focusing on my strengths instead of striving to correct my weaknesses. It’s useless trying to become good in a sphere where you do not have skills. Over time, I have learned to surround myself with people who fill my weaknesses and this attitude has always paid off for my farm.
I also visited dairy farms in the United States on a trip organized by La Coop. By analyzing the economics and technical data of the farms that I visited, I acquired a lot of knowledge that I use every day on my farm.
I also like to validate my ideas by reading articles and magazines that deal with agricultural topics and I get in touch with experienced and innovative producers. That’s the best source of learning for me. Volunteering for my association is also very instructive. Having been the president of Chaudière-Appalaches Young Farmers association for three years will certainly have an influence on my career as a young entrepreneur. Networking pays!
Texas A&M executive agriculture program
Hands down, the biggest impact for me has come from TEPAP, the Executive Program for Agricultural Producers run by Texas A&M University. I read some articles by renowned farm management specialist Danny Klinefelter when I was still back in high school and it made me want to attend TEPAP. Danny has served as a mentor for me and we’re great friends.
The weeklong course conducted in Austin each January is designed to make you more professional in your leadership and management skills. Along with daily intensive class sessions, there are bear-pit sessions with your classmates and instructors. This is a course for managers with a real desire to be better at farm business. It’s all about big picture thinking.
For the alumni of TEPAP training, an annual weeklong course called AAPEX, Association of Agricultural Production Executives is available and it’s also excellent.
The second largest impact would be Strategic Coach. From this, our farm asks every prospective employee to take the Kolbe personality test. This is an excellent tool for understanding people’s talents and how they will fit into your business. We’ve found it extremely useful.
I try to learn something new every day. Magazines and meetings are great but they can’t beat the fast-paced engagement that social media offers.
It educates me
Dairy farmers aren’t known to be world travellers. We are tied to our farms, so imagine my delight to get a glimpse into the world of some of the three billion social media users around the globe! Many of these users are farmers showcasing firsthand knowledge of the latest innovations ag has to offer.
I often spend long lonely days in the barn or on the tractor and face some unique challenges that take a toll – not only on my physical well-being but also my mental health. Being able to share my frustrations with others helps me cope and realize that I am not alone.
I can make a difference
The best classrooms smell like a barn. It’s great to encourage people to visit a farm, but in reality it’s not that easy. The next best thing is to tell your story on social media and show consumers that farmers truly do care about their livestock and their land.
From an AgriSuccess article (June 2019).