Students in the Agricultural Business Management major have a rare opportunity each semester to get out of the classroom and visit real farms and agribusinesses, thanks to the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
The purpose of the tours, says Undergraduate Coordinator John Russ, is to help students explore career and internship possibilities and to expand their professional networks.
The benefits for students and faculty are numerous, he says.
“For students, it’s about career exploration, motivation, leads on internships and careers, and development of professional skills and relationships,” Russ says. “As faculty, we connect with and learn from our constituents, form new collaborations, and further develop our network and relationships with agribusiness professionals.”
Last spring, Reggie Strickland of Strickland Farms planned and hosted “a day’s worth of excellent interactions between students, faculty and agribusiness professionals,” Russ says. Strickland is an Agricultural Institute (AGI) alumnus and advisory board member as well as a graduate of the N.C. Tobacco Trust Fund Commission Agricultural Leadership Development Program in CALS.
For AGI student Austin Hill, that particular farm tour turned into the opportunity of a lifetime.
“Through meeting Reggie and Garrett Strickland on the field trip, I was invited to come stay on their farm this summer,” he says. “Reggie and Garrett showed me the ins-and-outs of their business and were quick to answer any questions I had … I did not grow up with an ag background.”
These tours also allow students to connect with professionals involved in their “Principles of Agribusiness Entrepreneurship” class, in which students learn how to conceive new business ideas, evaluate the ideas and turn them into new ventures. Student teams engage with partner companies during the course to analyze entrepreneur ideas for business viability and revenue development. Projects range from market discovery or validation, marketing research and planning, new venture or product development, human resources growth management and more.
“I was supposed to transfer to Kansas State University this semester, but the great impact Dr. Russ and Reggie had on me made me decide to stay at NC State and build on these relationships,” Hill says. “I’m beyond grateful for these two men and their passion for the future of agriculture.”