Association uses website to find the best matches
By MATTHEW WEAVER
The Far West Agribusiness Association recently launched a new feature on its website to match companies with college interns looking to break into the agriculture business.
Association executive director Jim Fitzgerald said the program grew out of a board meeting discussion about the number of baby boomers who will retire in the next five to 10 years.
"How do you fill these positions?" he said. "Everybody would like somebody who grew up on a farm, has that work ethic and basic background knowledge of how things work on a farm, but there's getting to be fewer and fewer of those people."
Education is good, but often students lack real-world experience, Fitzgerald said. The internship becomes more important as a "test drive" of sorts for both the company and for the student.
Students upload their cover letter and resume to the Far West website, and companies seeking interns can post their information. Companies must agree to pay the interns and work with universities, which provide college credit.
Fitzgerald said the program is designed to be low-maintenance.
The association, headquartered in Spokane, contacted 66 two- and four-year colleges in Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington for interns.
About 125 businesses belong to the association.
The biggest need in the industry is for agronomists, Fitzgerald said. The association administers the Certified Crop Advisor program, and there is big demand for someone with that credential, he said, noting he gets calls from throughout the nation. There's also need for people in sales, communications, human resources, logistics and safety and regulatory positions.