For more than a century, the Farm & Industry Short Course has provided training for Wisconsin farmers. In only 16 weeks, the University of Wisconsin-Madison program 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.
The program’s fame has spread far beyond state borders, attracting students from around the country. Preston Brown, for example, thought nothing of making the 16-hour drive from Texas.
Brown works on a 1,400-cow dairy farm and heard about the Farm & Industry Short Course from a friend attending the program.
“I came to visit the school and fell in love with it and everything that was going on,” Brown says. “So I was really excited. I knew that if I came here I’d get what I wanted out of it.”
‘It’s always a learning process’
Since 1885, the Farm & Industry Short Course has constantly evolved to meet farmers’ needs. It’s timed to the Midwest’s non-growing season, November through March, so it can fit conveniently into a farm worker’s life. Alumni are in high demand, landing jobs as farmhands, herdsmen, managers, milkers, feeders, farm technicians, and crop assistants, to name a few.
Students in the Farm & Industry Short Course enjoy the same UW-Madison facilities as a four-year student.
“They live on campus and have access to all the university’s resources and amenities,” says Jessie Potterton, the program’s director. “But they get all those experiences in a 16-week period.”
Brown chose the program’s dairy track, but he’s met friends specializing in grain crops and beef. He’s learned a lot by hearing about their experiences.
“It’s always a learning process here, and it’s amazing,” Brown says. “It’s well worth your time if you decide to come.”
For more information about the Farm & Industry Short Course, watch the video above or see here.