After two years of success with Vector, a program that provides young farmers with a direct path back to the family farm, Pfister Seeds is expanding the program with internships. The Vector internship provides students with financial compensation and the opportunity for college credits from participating universities, along with practical experience managing a seed business.
According to Blake Noland, Vector program lead, Pfister Seeds’ decision to add an internship component to the Vector program is a direct response to ag educators’ enthusiasm for Vector. “Colleges have been extremely supportive of the Vector program, and they’ve asked if we could make it even more beneficial by creating internships that offer the opportunity for credit hours,” Noland said. “The primary goal of Vector continues to provide a means for young farmers to return directly to the family farm after college, but now students may earn college credits while gaining practical business experience.”
The enhanced Vector program offers participants a series of three paid internships in the summer, fall and spring. Through seasonal projects over a full seed sales cycle, Vector internships help students determine if operating an independent business is a good match for their skills and interests. Along with compensation, Pfister Seeds provides the necessary training and coaching for students to be successful.
As students participate in each of the three Vector internships, Pfister Seeds assesses their progress. Upon completion, a limited number of students are offered the opportunity to build their own independent seed business, selling Pfister Seeds corn and soybeans. “It’s a real ‘boots in the dirt’ approach for students to try out seed sales first-hand while finishing their degree,” Noland said. In addition to further training and guidance for those selected students, Pfister will invest in the new seed businesses with start-up funding to help cover expenses typically incurred when starting a business, such as a pickup truck, forklift or laptop. The young entrepreneurs will also receive a commission on each sale of Pfister corn and soybeans.
Brad Damery, Pfister Seeds general manager, says Vector was created in response to the frustration many young farmers experience as they begin their careers. “From a financial perspective, it can be really hard for young farmers to return to the family farm. Vector makes it economically feasible for the next generation of ag talent to begin working on the family farm from day one. With the addition of internships, students can begin their work toward this goal while completing their degree,” Damery said.
Pfister is continuing to offer the Vector program in Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, southern Minnesota and Missouri. During the 2015-16 academic year, the internship program will be offered to 60 students pursuing a career in agriculture. Participants must be at least 18 years old and have a desire to return to the family farm. Additional information on the Vector program and the Vector program internship application are available at http://www.pfisterseeds.com/vector/.