Self-assessment, education, technology important career considerations
By MATTHEW WEAVER
The Odessa, Wash., High School Future Business Leaders of America and Spokane AgriBusiness Council held a panel discussion on agricultural careers during the recent Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.
Students heard from machinery salesman Don Strebeck of Odessa Trading Co., representing sales; accountant Brenik Iverson of Leffel, Otis and Warwick; attorney John Kragt of Carpenter, McGuire and DeWulf; banker John Bartels of Columbia Bank, Wheatland Bank CEO Susan Horton, representing management; Ag-Tech Service manager Rob Soliday and Co-Ag grain marketer Derek Teal.
"Having a job in agriculture gives me the opportunity to raise my children in a small town and have friends that are like family," Strebeck said.
"Assess yourself: Do you like agriculture, love agriculture, do you know you want to work in agriculture?" Iverson said. "We're looking for people who have common sense, they're personable, a team player, hard-working and they want to live in a small town."
Horton stressed the need for education and to pursue a college degree to meet her long-term goals.
"Don't take the easy way out, delay gratification," she said. "Go to college; think big. It's a tough economy right now, so think about where the jobs are going to be."
Soliday said technology is the biggest thing coming in agriculture.
"It's just like a cell phone -- you get the iPhone 3 and you want the iPhone 4," he said. "Farmers are the same way -- they get this GPS model, the new one comes out, they want that one. The technology side is never going to end."
Bartels said success boils down to hard work and advised students to get summer jobs with a farmer.
"You get that strong work ethic, you can be successful in whatever you do," he said.
Odessa Middle School eighth-grader Colby Sooy plans to carry on his family wheat, hay and cattle farm, but said he needs to know how to manage employees and accounting when he works there. He said he walked away with the message that education will be important.
Kendall Todd, a senior at Odessa High School, is president of the local FBLA chapter. Todd hopes to pursue a career in physical therapy, but said she came away with the message that a business degree would be a useful route to take.
"It was extremely beneficial," she said of the forum.
"It was really good to hear their upbringing and how they got to where they are."