Dairy Farm Management
Since she was 11, Courtney Banach has wanted to be a farmer. She was a “city kid,” growing up in South Burlington, with no ties to a family farm. Her mom enrolled her in summer camp, hoping to curb her of her farming fixation.
“Clearly, her plan backfired,” Courtney recalls, “because I attended the camp four more years and volunteered in the years after.”
In high school, she participated in 4-H, where she met and started working for a herdsman, who was an alumna of Vermont Technical College.
When Courtney heard about Vermont Tech’s agriculture programs and working farm, “I just applied to one place (Vermont Tech) because I knew this was what I wanted,” she says.
At Vermont Tech, Courtney has found the right balance between hands-on learning at the farm and “book knowledge” in the classroom.
“I can’t sit in the classroom very long,” she says. “I feel the hands-on skills are just as important, but I really learn when I have both.” She also predicts her future employers will want her to come to work prepared with hands-on experience under her belt.
She gets her farm fix regularly. “I’m the annoying kid who comes down to the farm during everyone’s free hour between classes.” Being on the farm has taught her how to manage many different situations she’ll face in her future career as a herdsman. She appreciates the experience she’s gaining about managing people and getting the job done.
She also appreciates the faculty, who have figured out her learning style and are able to adapt the curriculum to help her understand it.
Classes are small, and the college feels like a family, she says.
“I chose Vermont Tech because I wanted to know everyone by name. We learn together, we take trips and tour farms together, and we share chores together.”
Just three weeks into her first year, Courtney knew she had made the right choice. Her resident assistant (RA) took her and other students to an orchard, and they played golf with the apples that had dropped.
“It was so much fun, and it was a beautiful fall day, and everything clicked with me,” she says.