Workforce training program(s) completed at Eastern:
- Farm Fellowship – 2023
- Farm Business Management Certification – 2023
- Livestock Management Systems Certification – 2023
Are you still taking training programs? If so, where and what training are you working toward?
I am working toward completing the Horticulture Management Certificate (expected 2024), as I only need one more class. I will be taking it through Eastern. I am putting up a high tunnel through the NRCS, and want as much education about it as I can get to ensure my greatest chances of success.
Current Employer/Job (if applicable):
I am currently a full-time employee at Cognosante, LLC as a Program Manager on a VA Home Telehealth Remote Patient Monitoring contract. However, I am using what I’m learning in my Eastern coursework to grow our family farm in hopes that in the next couple of years, I can work on the farm full-time. We raise cattle, hogs, bees, turkeys, chickens, and ducks, and offer educational farm tours that include learning how we care for these animals as well as our goats, horses, ponies, and donkeys. We also have seasonal additions to the tour like wildflower identification and uses of some wild plants, collecting eggs, feeding the animals, brushing the ponies, learning the difference between donkeys and horses, etc.
What is something you learned (knowledge, training, skills) during Eastern’s Workforce training program that you utilize in your workplace and/or current training?
I learned so much from Eastern’s classes and through the Farm Fellowship! From the business management classes, I learned how important it is to have a mission statement to keep the business focused and to manage risks by having the appropriate insurance coverage, which I have already implemented in our farm operation. In the livestock management classes, I learned how to better manage my pastures with proper weed control methods and livestock rotation, as well as how to more easily move and load cattle. I also learned how to AI and plan to use those skills on our cow and two new heifers next year. My Farm Fellowship mentors, Glen Delaplane and Lisa Jenkins taught me more than I could have ever learned on my own! From them I learned how to confidently vaccinate my livestock, how hay is made and the best ways to store it, and how to band a bull calf (which I was able to do for my new calf!). They took me to auctions to learn how to review the animals and bid on and buy livestock. They invited me over to hitch their new team of draft horses up and let me drive them as well as their mini horse. Glen and Lisa are now good friends and we have partnered to buy equipment to use together. I would have never otherwise had this opportunity to learn so much and meet with other like-minded farmers, without the Farm Fellowship program.
Did trainers/instructors/staff at Eastern contribute to your career success? How did they help you?
The instructors are so passionate about their work! Between sessions, they’d offer advice about challenges I’m facing on my farm and suggest options I didn’t even consider. The horticulture instructor always has small plants or seeds to give away and even offered to come out and give us first-hand advice when our high tunnel is erected. Trish is always a wonderful help with both reminders for deadlines as well as planning activities to make us feel like part of the Eastern family.
What advice would you give to current Workforce students at Eastern who are looking to follow a similar path to a job?
I would suggest they take full advantage of the amazing resources that Eastern has to offer: low-cost programs that offer direct application to your agriculture business, instructors who are doing what they’re teaching and giving you first-hand knowledge of what works, and events like Farm to Table that offer great networking opportunities.
Please feel free to share recent accomplishments and achievements in the workforce (within last year): include projects, awards, and any relevant information.
This was a big year for Dollinger Farm. We had our first calf born right here on the farm; we added three heifers, nine hogs, fifteen turkeys, and a horse, and began offering Dollinger Farm All-Purpose Seasoning which complements all of our farm products. We also had our largest group of farm visitors ever including a group of twenty from Washington, DC! Not only are our farm products and visitor numbers growing, but by adding these animals, broadening our knowledge, and getting more experience in farming, we’re able to offer more and improved learning opportunities to our farm visitors.
In addition, Dollinger Farm participated in the Hampshire County Farm Crawl 2023, had over seventy-five visitors, and gained some new customers.
Are you an Eastern graduate? Have you completed an Ag workforce training program at Eastern? Are you a former Early Entrance student who transferred credits to another college or university? If you are, and you want to share your success story, we would love to hear from you! Email email@example.com today!