Off-Farm Income

Sometimes when I conduct an interview I can find myself talking for hours if I am not careful.  Usually this is because there are so many different aspects of the guest's story that I could investigate the time just seems to flow by.  That was definitely possible in today's interview with National Proficiency Finalist and Minnesota State Officer, Nicole Koziolek.

I did a decent job of adhering to my normal time constraints, but there is so much to Nicole's story that it was difficult to not spend 30 minutes on each aspect.  To begin, Nicole comes from a farming family and farming legacy.  And, she grew up with her two parents who were farming corn and soybeans in Minnesota.  Nicole is an only child, so she would go to the farm with them, which is about 30 miles from their home, because she did not want to be left home alone.  However, for many of those years Nicole would just ride along and visit.  She did not necessarily show any desire to learn about the farming itself.

Nicole really was not excited about being part of the FFA, but her parents both had been very involved and wanted that to happen.  Eventually, Nicole's mom talked her into attending one, exploratory, meeting just to see what it was all about.  Something special happened in that meeting.  Nicole was hooked.  So hooked, in fact, that she went out of her way to participate.  Nicole went to high school at Northfield High School in Northfield, Minnesota.  However, they did not have an FFA chapter.  The nearest chapter as at Randolph High School about 15 miles away.  So, Nicole drove every morning to Randolph and attended two ag classes so that she could participate in the Randolph FFA Chapter.  She would then drive back to Northfield High School for the rest of her classes.

When it was time for Nicole to start a supervised agricultural experience she was considering a placement SAE, working on her families farm.  However, her dad convinced her to take a little risk and try farming for herself with an entrepreneurship SAE.  She accepted the challenge but realized that all of those years in the cab of the tractor riding along could have been used to learn everything she now needed to know.  So, she started "learning to farm" at a rapid pace.

Five years after that initial meeting at the Randolph FFA Chapter, Nicole is now nominated for a national proficiency award.  She had progressed from renting 20 acres from her parents to owning 13% of the operation.  She is majoring in agricultural communications and marketing at the University Of Minnesota.  And, she is a state officer for Minnesota FFA.  It is a remarkable journey and the FFA was an incredible catalyst for this transformation and success story!

Direct download: Off_Farm_Income--Episode_1243_Nicole_Koziolek-112021.mp3
Category:FFA -- posted at: 9:21am MST