For more than a century, the Farm & Industry Short Course (FISC) has constantly evolved to prepare students for success in the agriculture industry. In 2017-18, the University of Wisconsin-Madison program makes another significant change by adding a Foundation Certificate, which will ensure that all first-year students learn the skills required by today’s employers.
Previously, students in the Farm & Industry Short Course took a handful of required courses while focusing on electives in either animals, mechanics, or crops and soils. This year, they will take a wider range of courses while still pursuing the electives of their choice.
“We created the Foundation Certificate based on interviews with alumni, farmers, and industry leaders,” says FISC director Jessie Potterton. “They said they needed students who knew a little about agricultural safety, business, communication, conflict resolution, and other areas related to every facet of agriculture.”
Potterton says the Foundation Certificate will help students in a job market that increasingly requires flexibility. Even those who’ve secured a job must be ready for new opportunities in case of unforeseen events.
“Our goal is to prepare them for anything they might need to do to advance their careers,” Potterton says.
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. Graduates are in high demand, using their skills as farmhands, herdsmen, managers, milkers, feeders, farm technicians, and crop assistants, among others. The next cohort begins on Oct. 30, with a Sept. 1 application deadline.
Participants in the Farm & Industry Short Course have the same access to UW-Madison facilities and alumni networks as a four-year student. They live together in a residence hall and make lifelong connections.
This year, a new bonding experience involves a bus tour to a key region in the Wisconsin agriculture industry. Students will visit farms and businesses and meet with FISC alumni at an evening networking event.
Another innovation is Agricultural Human Resource Management, an interactive course taught by three educators from UW Extension. It will explore the ins and outs of managing employees and working with others in the field.
Potterton believes that, for anyone considering a career in agriculture, the Farm & Industry Short Course offers great value for the investment.
“Between the programming, the networking, and the community-building,” she says, “FISC will have a positive impact on the rest of your life.”