Welcome to Farm and Industry Short Course – Audio

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Rumen nutrition lab instructed by Eric Ronk, dairy science, for the Farm and Industry Short Course (FISC). Photos by Sevie Kenyon, UW-Madison CALS

Welcome to Farm and Industry Short Course

Jessie Potterton, Director
Farm and Industry Short Course
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 263-3918, (608) 262-3127

3:06 – Total Time
0:14 – About Farm and Industry Short Course
0:41 – Short term, long on benefits
1:02 – Variety of classes
1:38 – New classes, more hands-on
2:18 – For more information
2:39 – Students from everywhere
2:56 – Lead out


Sevie Kenyon: Learning about Farm and Industry Short Course, we’re visiting today with Jessie Potterton, Director of Farm and Industry Short Course, University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Sevie Kenyon. Jessie, introduce us to the Farm and Industry Short Course.

Jessie Potterton: The Farm and Industry Short Course program has been offered at UW-Madison for over 130 years and it is the first agricultural education program in the college of Ag and Life Sciences. It is a program that is offered from late fall to early spring, intended to help farmers, future farmers, agricultural enthusiasts learn more about the ag industry. Continue reading

Pasture-based dairy and livestock farm business course available online

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

Would-be farmers can now learn about pasture-based production and business management without leaving home. The Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers (WSBDF), the first course of its kind, is now available online.

“For several years now, we have been asked by folks across the country about the possibility of our course becoming accessible online, and today it is a reality. This is deeply meaningful for me,” said Richard Cates, director of the WSBDF.

The WSBDF, which is going into its 22nd year, is a cooperative effort of the Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems and Farm and Industry Short Course at the UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences.

Sarah Joe and Mitchell Mumm - 2016

Sarah and Joe Mumm (with son Mitchell) are dairy farmers and speakers in the Wisconsin School for Beginning Dairy and Livestock Farmers. Sarah completed the WSBDF program in 2004. Photo courtesy of WSBDF.

The online course offers the same curriculum as the WSBDF pasture-based dairy and livestock seminar offered on-campus, and at distance learning sites. Online learning lets students enroll at any time and take the course from any location, at their own pace.

Participants have access to live recordings of WSBDF lectures addressing a wide range of topics including business planning, farm selection and setup, parlor design, livestock health, organic production and principles, marketing, soil nutrient management, and much more. The full course outline is available at wsbdf.wisc.edu/online-course-outline/.

While the course emphasizes dairy and beef production, goat and sheep production are also covered.

Each topic included in the course features one or more speakers, as well as additional readings and resources. The WSBDF emphasizes learning from experienced dairy and livestock farmers, some of whom are WSBDF graduates. Other course presenters include UW-Madison faculty, Extension agents, financial consultants, farm lenders, state and federal agency representatives, and small business owners.

Students who complete three exams and submit a business plan will receive a certificate of course completion. The online seminar includes tools and templates to help participants prepare their own business plans, and the $300 fee includes personalized input and feedback on these plans from course instructors.

Cates is optimistic that the online course will catalyze the success of the WSBDF by helping many more aspiring farmers reap the environmental, economic and quality of life benefits of well-managed dairy and livestock agriculture. “For more than twenty years, the WSBDF has trained the next generation of farmers—over 500 students. It makes me very happy to be able to share this experience with would-be farmers anywhere on planet Earth.”

For more information and course registration, visit wsbdf.wisc.edu. The course is available for groups and organizations; please contact Dick Cates at rlcates@wisc.edu or 608-265-6437 for details.

The short course experience – Audio

Friday, March 25th, 2016

The Farm and Industry Short Course Experience

Josie Schreiner, Student
C/O Jessie Potterton, Director
Farm and Industry Short Course
UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
(608) 263-3918, (608) 262-3127

3:03 – Total Time
0:13 – Meet student Josie Schreiner
0:36 – Why short course
0:56 – Chance to open eyes
1:12 – Becoming a family
1:28 – Finding a future
1:54 – Favors the dairy business
2:03 – Helpful professors
2:29 – A learning challenge
2:38 – Living in Madison
2:53 – Lead out



Sevie Kenyon – Taking a look at the Farm and Industry Short Course experience, we’re visiting today with Josie Schreiner, Farm and Industry Short Course student, University of Wisconsin-Madison in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, and I’m Sevie Kenyon. Josie, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Josie Schreiner – I’m from Jefferson, WI. My family owns an auction company and a few of my uncles are dairy farmers so I grew up working on the farm, but necessarily didn’t grow up on a dairy farm. I got a job in high school working on a farm feeding calves and I really enjoyed that last few years and that’s one of my passions is the calves. Continue reading

Organic grain production and marketing course offered in January

Friday, December 4th, 2015

With organic grain prices as much as three times higher than conventional prices and demand for organic grain far outstripping supply, opportunities abound in this industry. A new seminar offered by the Organic Grain Resources and Information Network (OGRAIN) and the Farm and Industry Short Course (FISC) at UW-Madison will help farmers take advantage of the rapidly growing market for organic grain.

The organic grain production and marketing seminar will be held January 11-29, 2016. Classes will meet daily from 2:25-3:15pm on the UW-Madison campus, and will also be available remotely through a live, interactive streaming service.

“Whether you’re a conventional producer interested in exploring the transition to organic grain production, a livestock or produce farmer curious about adding grain to your system, or a new farmer wanting to start with organic grain, you’ll find what you’re looking for in this seminar,” says Anders Gurda, associate researcher in the Organic and Sustainable Cropping Systems lab at UW-Madison and program coordinator for OGRAIN.

The seminar will cover agronomic aspects of organic corn, soybean, and small grain production as well as fertility and pest management. Participants will also learn about marketing and contracts, food-grade grain production, and organic transition and certification. The course will be taught by experienced organic farmers, researchers, agency personnel and industry representatives.

“Farmers can not only make more money by growing and selling organic grain, but they can do it in a way that is both environmentally and economically sustainable,” says Gurda.

Although organic grain prices are strong, significant barriers prevent many producers from making the leap to organic grain production. “Farmers are concerned about yields in organic systems, the organic transition process, and the skills and knowledge necessary for managing a successful organic grain operation,” Gurda explains.

The course is available to anyone with an interest in learning more about organic grain production. However, the seminar emphasizes the needs of beginning farmers who have been farming for fewer than 10 years.

The organic grain production and marketing seminar is available for no extra charge to students enrolled in the Farm and Industry Short Course. The cost for non-FISC participants is $50, which covers either the campus or online class. Need-based scholarships are available. If remote participants need assistance accessing high speed internet, course organizers can help identify locations capable of streaming the class.

This seminar is made possible by a grant from the USDA Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.  OGRAIN is a collaborative effort of the UW-Madison Center for Integrated Agricultural Systems (CIAS), Farm and Industry Short Course (FISC), Organic and Sustainable Cropping Systems lab, and Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES).

To register, call or send an email with your name, phone number and address to Anders Gurda, agurda@wisc.edu, 612-868-1208. When registering, please indicate whether you will join the class in person or online, and if you need scholarship support. You will receive payment instructions when you register.  Registrations will be accepted until the class is full.

Farm and Industry Short Course will hold preview days Feb. 16 and 17

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011

The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Farm and Industry Short Course invites prospective students and their parents to campus on Feb. 16 or 17, 2011 to preview what the program has to offer. High school juniors and seniors are encouraged to attend.

The UW-Madison College of Agricultural and Life Sciences offers the one- or two-year short course program to high school graduates interested in farming or one of Wisconsin’s many other agricultural industries. The program runs from November to April and has an average enrollment of 135 students.

The program’s instructional goals emphasize a combination of cutting edge knowledge and hands-on experience, taught by faculty and staff, many of whom also teach in the four-year undergraduate program.

Over 50 courses are offered annually in the areas of soils, crops, dairy, meat animals, general livestock, landscaping, agricultural engineering and agricultural economics. Students may earn a one-year or two-year certificate requiring 20 or 40 credits, respectively, or they may pursue a specialty certificate in one of seven areas: Crop and Soil Management, Dairy Farm Management, Farm Mechanics, Farm Service and Supply, Landscape Industry, Meat Animals, or Pasture-Based Dairy and Livestock.

Up to 15 credits can be transferred to the College’s four-year degree program.

The preview days will give visitors a chance to tour the campus and attend classes in advanced reproduction, plant diseases, managing a pasture-based dairy business, beef cattle management & production and soil & crop nutrient resource management.

Prospective students can talk to short course staff, current students, house fellows and alumni. They can also tour the short course dormitories and learn about the many scholarship opportunities available and the types of careers that short course can lead to.

“Preview Days allow potential students to get a feel for the experience they can expect if they attend Short Course,” says Ted Halbach, short course director. “There’s no better way to find out for yourself than by visiting campus.”

There is no cost for the Preview Days, but pre-registration by Feb. 9, 2011 is strongly recommended. To register or for more information, please call (608) 263-3918 or e-mail Kimberley Brudny kbrudny@cals.wisc.edu.