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A career in agriculture, but not on the farm: A dispatch from Brandon

In between the major segments of our ongoing Rural Minnesota: Generation at the Crossroads series, we are posting interim pieces by or about young people we meet around the state. University of Minnesota Crookston graduate Anna Wagner, 20, found us through Twitter and filled out our online form (Are you under 25 and living in Minnesota? We have some questions for you). Wagner is from Brandon, Minn., population 489. She's living in Robbinsdale for a summer internship. For more from Wagner, visit her blog at http://annajwagner.blogspot.com/, and you can find her on twitter at @AnnaJWagner.


View Brandon, MN 56315 in a larger map

My relationship with Brandon is mixed. While I feel a sense of pride, I also felt a bit constrained, though I never had much of a desire to live for long periods of time in a large city.

The biggest connection I have to my hometown is the small organic dairy farm I grew up on. I always enjoy being back on the farm. When I'm in the city I miss the cows, I miss the fields, and I miss doing chores. I like to go back home and feed the cows and clean the barn, simply because I think it's fun. I like to talk to my dad about the crops and about what's happening on the farm.

I like it when everybody knows everybody. When I go to the bank, the teller knows my name, asks how I'm doing, and asks how my parents are. Even people that I don't regularly talk to or that my parents are not as close with will still ask me questions when I come home on weekends, simply because they know who we are. It's just the way the small town works.

Anna Wagner
Courtesy of Anna Wagner
Anna Wagner

However, in high school I sometimes felt constrained by the small town. The small K-12 school I graduated from has combined sports with a nearby K-12 school since I was there. They are combining yearbooks, prom, band, choir, and some classes now as well, but have thus far refused to consolidate due to old rivalries and stubborn parents.

I had wished I had more opportunities, more experiences and a larger school with more clubs and chances to be involved. In my high-school class there were 25 students, so I didn't have lots of groups of friends with different interests; I had just one group of friends because the school was so small.

I'm not certain I will go back to my hometown after my internship. I am certain that I want to work in agriculture. I am pursuing a career in agricultural marketing communications. The vast majority of these jobs, and it seems the ones I am primarily interested in, are in cities.

I don't particularly want to live in the cities, but I do want a good job that I will enjoy. I'm hoping that if I do end up working in the cities, I will be able to eventually have a couple of acres close enough to commute.

Being able to take over the farm would most likely draw me back. Or if I could find a job in the area that I truly enjoyed, or if I could work from home. With any of these scenarios, I am certain that I would want to live in the area where I grew up.

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Comments (2)

I remember living on a farm by Brandon and attending the local schools through 7th grade. My dad had to quit farming due to health problems and we moved away. But I still have fond memories and good relatives in the area. Thanks for the article.

Rosalie - Who are your relatives if you don't mind? My Dad was born in the area as well as knows lots of people around Brandon, and we have a lot of relatives in the area. He also has health problems that have led to him thinking about quitting farming, but he hasn't yet. Nice to hear from someone else from Brandon.