On Monday, June 26, 18 FFA members visited different businesses around the area to learn about their roles in agriculture.

On Monday, June 26, 18 FFA members visited different businesses around the area to learn about their roles in agriculture. Along on the tours were FFA advisors, Mrs. Hoffmann and Mr. McMullen and summer ag intern, Bailey Leaman. This event is a smaller version of the Summer Ag Tour where members travel to a different state for three days to tour companies and businesses.

This experience was good to show and teach about the businesses and agriculture career opportunities that are closer to home, that some students may not have heard about.

The day started off at Schwartz Farms, Inc., southwest of Sleepy Eye. The FFA members heard from five employees about their backgrounds, what they do at Schwartz Farms, and what they like about their positions. The members gained knowledge on the scope of Schwartz Farms, Inc. and its various areas of operations, as well as all the different job opportunities that are available. Schwartz Farms also provided breakfast for the group and a T-shirt for each participant.

Next, the group traveled to Spring Creek Dairy, where the Dittbenner family gave a tour of the farm, including: housing, robotic milkers, automatic feed pusher, baby calves, and the computer system that collects/analyzes the data. It was very interesting to see the advances in technology in the dairy industry and see how the robotic milking system operates.

Third, the group traveled to FAST Global Solutions in Windom. Members learned about all the steps of manufacturing, from cutting products to bending metal and from welding to painting and assembly. FAST is a leading global manufacturer of agriculture sprayers and fertilizer equipment, as well as baggage carts for airlines and package conveyors.

Members had an opportunity to relax a little and try their hand at bowling at Concordia Lanes in New Ulm before heading to their last tour.

The final tour was at Sleepy Bison Acres, just south of Sleepy Eye. Here FFA members had a chance to hear from Craig and Elizabeth Fischer, learning about their bison herd, as well as how they raise chickens and hogs, all on just 12 acres of land. They are at the forefront of how to be in production agriculture with a small amount of land, finding niche markets for what the consumers want.

This event was a success and a great learning experience for the FFA members. They learned a lot about local agriculture in southern Minnesota, while having a lot of fun. The tours opened up possible job and career pathways for some members.

Each year the FFA plans to conduct this one day tour in the summer with four area agriculture stops. This is a fantastic way for our members to gain first hand information of different aspects of agriculture opportunities locally.