Grow with Grace: The Path to Sustainable Farming
Grace College’s agriculture program empowers future agriculture leaders to Grow with Grace. Whether you choose the sustainable agriculture or agribusiness track, over the course of your time at Grace, your sustainable farming program will take you through three phases of development: plant, grow, harvest.
When a prospective student steps foot in the office of Agriculture Program Director Tobe Forshtay, he sits down with them and evaluates whether or not Grace is the best fit for them. As any farmer knows, proper planting is key to a successful harvest.
“When a young person transitions from living life at home to coming to college, they enter a new season. It’s almost like planting them in new soil. And the soil at Grace College is not the same as other colleges or institutions. It’s important to assess a good fit,” said Forshtay.
Forshtay asks them questions, gets to know them, and evaluates whether or not Grace is fertile soil for them to thrive.
There are two distinctions of Grace College soil:
- Grace College is good soil for those who want a comprehensive look at agriculture.
Grace Ag doesn’t just look at agriculture as it has been done in the past. It includes an innovative exploration of how it will be executed in the future — shaped by emerging technologies and new methodologies.
- Grace College soil is rooted in faith.
At the onset of the program, Forshtay gives his students a list of prayer points which include leaders of our country, of our college, and even leaders of a student’s dorm. He encourages students to start praying for those in leadership, and a list of other things, regularly.
And once students complete their Introduction to Agriculture class their first year, they can consider themselves “planted.”
Once students are planted at Grace, their growth begins. As students continue in their coursework, they are introduced to a theoretical yet highly practical framework of agriculture.
The courses offered at Grace give students an opportunity to grow their knowledge, their skills, and their network. Take the Ag Economics class for example. This class doesn’t just teach students economic theory, it trains students to truly think like an economist. A similar experiential learning approach is used in all of the ag classes with the intent to prepare students for success post-graduation.
Ag Business Tour
Sprinkled throughout these classes, is the Kosciusko Ag Business Tour. Over the course of this tour, Professor Forshtay makes it a goal for each of his students to shake the hand of more than 30 ag business leaders. A number of these business leaders have been in the sustainable farming industry for more than 30 years, and these connections lead to jobs, internships, and mentorships for students.
Mentorships are another key to the equation for growth. Students are required to partake in three mentor-style relationships prior to graduating. This allows them to gain exposure to various types of ag businesses. These are highly-personalized and deeply-enriching relationships that often continue well-beyond the course requirement.
The academic growth that takes place in Grace’s ag program culminates in the Ag Seminar class. In this course, students are charged with creating an agricultural business plan that they then pitch to a panel of business executives looking to invest. Students are given the chance to launch their ideas and start their own businesses.
After students experience tremendous growth over their years at Grace, they are able to harvest a degree. But that’s not all that’s harvested.
Grace ag students leave with an incredible foundation to continue growing. “It’s foolish to claim that students will leave knowing everything there is to know. The truth of the matter is, we develop lifelong learners. Our students leave with an understanding of how to learn and they leave challenged to continue growing,” said Forshtay.
In addition, a Grace ag graduate harvests a renewed sense of purpose and a knowledge of God’s plan for them. They leave with confidence in who God created them to be. They leave with an understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. And they leave with a plentiful harvest of deep, Christ-centered relationships. Forshtay has connected his graduates to jobs, helped plan their proposals, and even performed one’s wedding. The relationships that get planted when a student first arrives on campus grow into something that lasts far beyond a student’s time at Grace.
And when it comes time for harvest, there are a plethora of opportunities waiting for students on the other side. Surrounded by ag opportunities on all sides, Grace graduates have access to agriculture internships in the following organizations in Northern Indiana:
- Bishop Farms
- Louis Dreyfus
- Silveus Insurance Group
- Maple Leaf Farms
- Tom Farms
- Kosciusko County Farm Bureau
- Blue River Digital
- Ceres Solutions
- Ag Plus
- Summit Equestrian Inn
- Purdue Extension
- Silver Lake Agri Center
- Chore-Time Brock (CTB)
And graduates are prepared to enter the following industries:
- Farming or Food Production
- Agricultural Politics
- Sustainable Agriculture Research
- Ag Education
- Environmental Studies
- Food Sustainability
Is Grace the right soil for you? Your education in sustainable agriculture and sustainable farming starts with the decision to apply today. Click the link, and let’s consider how you might Grow with Grace.