Before he graduates in May, Concordia senior Joshua Schick will already be living his dream of running his own farm.
Schick, a business major with an agri-business concentration, and his brother, Brad, a 2014 Concordia graduate, have started their own business farming 600 acres of row crop and feeding calves near Tilden, Nebraska. This spring, they’ll be planting their first crops and tending to the ground that’s conveniently located close to his family’s home in Meadow Grove.
“Farming is something I’ve always been really passionate about and what I’ve wanted to do,” Schick said. “Having the opportunity to work with my dad and brother, that’s really special.”
Growing up, Schick spent countless hours on the farm with his dad and brothers, helping out wherever he could. His experiences shaped his passion for farming and confirmed to him it was the path God was calling him to.
“This is what I want to do, God will give you your heart’s desire, he has given that to me, and if I can witness to others through farming, I will do it in any way I can. It’s hard to be a witness, but I will do my best and ultimately give all the glory to Him.”
Since graduating high school, Schick searched for land to farm, which wasn’t easy, he said, since farm ground is often handed down through a family or sold at auction. In November 2018, Schick approached a family friend about renting out his land. As it turned out, he was thinking about retirement and told Schick he’d love to help him get started.
“We say it’s a God thing,” Schick said. “There’s no way these things just happen. I definitely believe that God is always in control and that he’s blessing us with this opportunity.”
With the ground solidified, Schick’s next step was to secure an operating note to fund the farm’s business operations.
“When it comes to farming, we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars that we need to make this work,” Schick said.
Through his business classes, Schick understood the basics of a business plan and what he needed to prepare for the bank for them to approve his loan. He credits his professors, Dr. Curt Beck, Todd Johnson and Andrew Langewisch, in teaching real-world applications in each of their classes. Schick worked closely with Johnson to outline his plan, down to the penny, for the funds he needed to borrow.
“Thanks to my education in the business program, we got approval for the loan,” Schick said. “Even before I graduated, my education has made me successful in what I was trying to do in the real world.”
Johnson said he has started to see a trend of students becoming entrepreneurs in the ag industry. Even if older landowners do not want to sell their land, they may want people to farm it.
“I see more entrepreneurs figuring out strategies to take advantage of the opportunity to farm without having to come up with large chunks of cash to buy the land,” Johnson said. “It can be a win-win for the landowner and the entrepreneur and Joshua is a good example of this.”
Schick plans on utilizing the latest trends in ag technology to get the most yield he can. He has a GPS unit on his planting equipment that simplifies the process of planting seed, moisture probes in the ground indicate when to irrigate and he can control their pivots from his cellphone. These are just a few of the ways technology has positively impacted the ag industry.
In addition to using technology to increase his yield, Schick plans to participate in the Conservation Stewardship Program that provides incentives to farmers who plant cover crops, keep records of their fertilizing efforts and rainfall, among other conservation techniques. There’s more to farming than most people typically think, Schick said.
“A lot of people like to romanticize it,” he said, “that it’s a fun and easy thing. It can be those things, don’t get me wrong. I love cattle, I love going out there every day and working. But it’s tough work and you need to know what you’re doing and where your dollars are going.”
There are times in the farming industry where ethics aren’t at the forefront of decision making, Schick said. By staying true to himself and his morals, he plans to be an example in his community.
“There are farmers who have lied, cheated and stolen to get more ground or more subsidies, or to make more money,” he said. “That’s really disappointing. I’m not going to say I’m going to change the world by being an ethical person, but by doing my part and being ethical, I can set an example for other people.”
Schick is the latest of a long line of his family to graduate from Concordia, including his parents, his sister Valerie ’11 and brothers Brad ’14 and Kendall ’17.
“The quality of education is second to none,” he said. “The professors here care. They care about every person because that’s the way Christ was.”