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Continuing Education & Professional Development on the Farm
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Continuing Education & Professional Development on the Farm

Life on the ranch is demanding. There are hundreds of minor and major tasks to get to every day, and there never seems to be quite enough time to get everything done. Given this, it can be hard to think about other important things such as continuing education.

However, gone are the days where just anyone can get by on their wit and hard work alone. Even the majority of farmers and ranchers can seriously benefit from higher education such as a college degree in agricultural systems or business management, especially given all of the technologies that are constantly hitting the market. The biggest difficulty can be finding a means of staying on the farm and contributing to ranch work while attending school.

Luckily, there are a number of great options for both attending college and paying for it while still remaining at home to tackle the important things that need taken care of. These include things such as pursuing online educational programs and/or picking up small jobs or scholarship programs that can help defray the costs.

Pursuing Online Education

There are a number of significant benefits to pursuing an online education — namely the ability to attend university from the comfort of your own farm or ranch. This allows you skip the fancy brick-and-mortar buildings and questionable cafeteria food while oftentimes saving a good chunk of change compared to traditional schooling.

Another advantage of online education is the built-in flexibility that can give you the ability to budget your time in whatever way works the best for you. For instance, if you need to help with calving first thing in the morning and cannot get to your term paper until after dinner, that is completely possible. Because of technologies such as online forums and video conferencing, you are still able to easily interact with classmates and professors.

It may come as somewhat of a surprise, but there are actually hundreds of previously unlikely degrees that can be completed mostly online. For example, it is entirely possible to complete the majority of nursing school without setting foot on campus more than a couple times. As job trends indicate a growing need for healthcare professionals and many positions are high paying, it’s a great career field to pursue.

Taking Advantage of Opportunities

There are a number of important educational opportunities to help to cover the costs of education such as academic scholarships and loan programs. There are even a number scholarships available specifically to those that have an agricultural or ranching background such as a Future Farmers of America scholarship. These programs can help provide some financial support for your higher education.

As you are pursuing your education, you may even consider giving back to help younger children build a greater understanding of the work that you do. Programs such as the 2017 Farm to School program can help to build connections between students and farmers/ranchers by teaching students about rural life and providing them with locally grown food.

According to some statistics the program actually goes a long ways in helping to create economic activity and jobs in the local area. Program leaders estimate that over 1.4 million dollars is generated through Farm to School programs, making a huge overall contribution to the state. Ultimately, the program could lead to a greater desire and interest in agriculture among younger people.

Working to Cover Costs

Of course, there may still be some need to cover the cost of an online education outside of work on the farm or ranch. A number of options exist outside of scholarships and loans such as starting a small business from your home or monetizing a favorite hobby. All earnings from this second income can go to cover the cost of school, allowing you to leave with a higher education debt free.

One potential way to make additional money on the side is to find a way to make money doing something you love. That hobby can be anything such as teaching younger children to ride horses, online blogging, or even metal detecting. If you are really talented, these hobbies can actually provide a fair amount of support as you work your way through school.

If you are considering running a small business to make money on the side, there are a number of things to think about. For instance, make sure that you have the appropriate space from which to run things and ask yourself questions regarding what you’ll need to be successful. Furthermore, think about things such as make sure you can balance with the farm and school and if you are going to need any sort of accident or business insurance.

More and more a higher degree is becoming a benefit to everyone regarding their ultimate career choice. Attending school doesn’t have to completely pull you away from your farm or ranch, especially if you are considering the possibility of online education. There are multiple ways to help support yourself while in school, from scholarships to monetizing a favorite hobby. You can make it happen!

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Leave a Comment

  1. Inner Bay Equestrian
    This post could have been more timely-the link to FFA Scholarships provides the disappointing news that the deadlines for applications were on Feb 6 and 13th, also that scholarships DO require FFA membership, in contradiction to information in the article.
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