To decide if dairy farming was his calling, Craig Dueholm needed a break from the mooing at his family’s Polk County farm. He didn’t leave the cows behind completely, though. Instead he studied them—and many other aspects of agriculture, from animal reproduction to pest control—in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Farm & Industry Short Course (FISC). Informed by this educational experience, which takes place each year from November through March, he and his brother Carl have built a model of agricultural efficiency that benefits cattle, consumers, and communities.
Recently Dueholm’s commitment to best practices and constant improvement earned him a spot in the All Ways Forward fundraising campaign, which shows how UW-Madison’s work touches all 72 Wisconsin counties. In his estimation, learning about technology and design advances is part of what it means to be a modern farmer.
“We’ve built facilities that allow us to get tasks done more efficiently,” he says. “It’s made things easier for us and our employees.”
Another innovation Dueholm’s farm employs is total mixed rationing, a feeding system that minimizes waste w
hile ensuring that each cow receives an ideal ratio of vitamins, protein, and calories with each bite.
Making a difference on and off the farm
In only 16 weeks, the Farm & Industry Short Course teaches students to operate their own farms, run an agricultural business, or work in the agribusiness sector. They can tailor the curriculum to their needs, choosing from dozens of classes in soils, crops, dairy, meat animals, agricultural engineering, farm business planning, agribusiness, human relations, and communications. Alumni are in high demand as farmhands, herdsmen, managers, milkers, feeders, farm technicians, and crop assistants, among others.”
For more than 130 years, FISC has helped young farmers develop into leaders through lectures and hands-on classes taught by renowned experts. Students also grow by becoming part of the campus community and experiencing traditions like Badger basketball games and trips to the Memorial Union. By the time they complete the program, they’re ready to make a difference both on the farm and off.
For more information about FISC, see here.