Farm Horizons, October 2014

Area students aim for farm-focused careers

By Starrla Cray

When Michelle Covington found out she was required to take an ag education class in eighth grade, her first thought was, “Only farmers need this; I’m not going to be a farmer.”

But, it didn’t take long before she discovered that farming is just the beginning when it comes to agricultural-related careers.

“I don’t know what I would be doing if I hadn’t taken that class,” said Michelle, who is currently studying agronomy and agribusiness at the University of Minnesota-Crookston.

Michelle, the daughter of Jim and Paula Covington of Belle Plaine, was one of two agronomy interns at Mid-County Coop in Cologne this past summer.

“Mid-County Coop has really great people working for them,” she said. “They made me feel like part of the family; I had fun, and I learned a lot.”

The other intern was Rick Ancel, the son of Bob and Cheryl Ancel of Savage. Rick plans to graduate from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2016 with a major in agricultural industries and marketing with a focus on crops and soils.

“I didn’t grow up on a farm, but when I was 14, I started helping a friends’ family who had a farm,” Rick said. “I liked being able to go outside and work, and I liked learning to drive equipment.”

In college, classes that involve plants and soils have been Rick’s favorite.

“We have test fields right in St. Paul,” he said. We get to go work out in the fields; the labs are really hands-on.”

Rick and Michelle’s internships at Mid-County Coop also provided hands-on experience, through crop scouting, soil sampling, and helping farmers improve crop yields.

“It definitely assured me that I am on the right track,” said Michelle, who participated in FFA throughout high school. “My favorite part was when I got to work with the farmers one-on-one.”

“Hopefully I can come back next summer for a marketing/agronomy internship,” Rick added.

At the University of Minnesota, Rick is involved in Minnesota FarmHouse Fraternity, a values-based organization that aims to build members’ leadership skills.

“It’s mainly for people in agricultural majors,” he said.

When he’s not busy learning about agriculture, Rick enjoys duck hunting, fishing, and riding motorcycles. Michelle’s interests include reading, cooking, and swing dancing.

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