agricultural careers

Courtesy of Fox Valley Technical College

Nearly every morning, Madison Area Technical College graduate Peyton Simon makes her rounds at Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo. As a certified veterinary technician and the resident assistant calf manager, Simon puts in 10-hour days taking temperatures and listening to lungs, administering vaccinations or tagging ears, dehorning, feeding or cleaning beds. Every day is different for the 2015 graduate.

“Tech school gave me that wide knowledge base to be able to jump into any position that would come,” she says.

Simon landed the job in December 2015. Before that, she worked six years at Poynette Veterinary Service, followed by a temporary position in the agronomy department at the University of Wisconsin’s Arlington Research Station.

Simon always knew she loved animals. As a high school sophomore, she nursed a newborn orphan mouse with a milk replacer- filled syringe. She then cared for the mouse for six years.

“I kind of bounced from small animal to ag to now doing large animal, so it just goes to show how much you can do,” she says.

Tech school gave Simon the wide range of skills to make her passion marketable. That’s also been the case for Kaitlyn Tesch, who graduated from Fox Valley Tech in 2014.

“My family has a dairy farm in northern Wisconsin, so I knew I wanted to pursue a career in the ag industry, but I didn’t know exactly what,” Tesch says. “I was able to explore the animal side, the agronomy and plant side, as well as the business aspects.”

It was the business piece that clicked for Tesch. She started her job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency after graduating with an associate degree in agricultural business and science technology. Within a year, she received a promotion.

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Tesch’s job is to financially assist farmers just starting out who may not have much equity or capital, as well as seasoned farmers struggling due to low commodity prices or other challenges.

“I think one of the great parts about being at Tech was all the different hands-on and networking experiences I had. Being able to meet farmers on tours or in lab exercises, to be working with them now and have that prior connection is really nice,” says Tesch, who also stays in touch with many of her instructors. “They were all so knowledgeable and had experience in their fields. They’re great resources for me.”

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