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 farming 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 I first considered going to college I knew I didn’t want a program that was just class work, I wanted the hands-on aspect of a degree program as well, and that is exactly what Vermont Tech provided me with. As a FARMS 2+2 student I feel like the Vermont Tech portion of my program was by far the most beneficial part to me.”
As graduation loomed ahead of her, Courtney had that mid-semester panic that goes through many students’ heads, she knew her knowledge and practical experience was enough to graduate, but would she be able to find a career?
“Once I stated that my career goal was to be a herdsman, I was suddenly given as many opportunities as I could handle to best prepare myself. With the help of my advisor and another ag teacher, I was suddenly being offered jobs left and right. It was the relationship that my teachers had with farmers and employers in the region that helped me get a job.”
Courtney recently accepted a position with a local employer who has hired many successful Vermont Tech grads in the past. Her supervisor appreciates the real-world experience Vermont Tech offers its graduates.
“Before attending college, I was working on farms and liked what I did but it was just repetitive work that wasn’t very exciting. I came in only knowing how to milk cows and feed calves and by the time I finished school I could treat sick cows, breed and trim feet, and drive tractors which were all skills I am using in my job after school today.”
Field trips also helped Courtney get a feel for her future career. In addition to the visiting the regional Dairy Challenge and local farms, Courtney and her class completed an Advanced Livestock trip that took them to visit sheep, goat, and dairy farms all over New England.
Courtney still finds time to visit Vermont Tech and the farm. She says, “Today, as an alumnus I love coming back to campus. I have come back to visit with old professors and farm staff, help out working on the farm again during the summer, come back and watch final presentations of current students and be there to offer help to students as they finish school or inform other 2+2 students about their next steps. The friendships made at Vermont Tech are ones that last a lifetime!
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