Jennifer Blazek’s agricultural experience spans the field and the classroom—she’s been a manager at her family’s farm as well as an extension educator. On June 11, Blazek will be the new director of the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Farm & Industry Short Course (FISC), which has equipped farmers with knowledge and skills for more than 130 years.
“I am very excited to continue supporting Wisconsin agriculture through the Farm & Industry Short Course,” says Blazek. “I feel strongly about expanding FISC programming to meet the needs of current and future farmers.”
FISC, housed in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (CALS), offers more than 30 courses in subjects including crops, dairy, meat animals, soils, agricultural engineering, farm business management, human relations, and communications. After graduation, FISC students find many types of agricultural jobs, including crop assistant, milker, herdsman, and farm manager.
Blazek will be responsible for oversight of the program, from marketing, recruitment, and admissions to academic policies, budgeting, and strategic planning.
Diverse experience, cultivating the future
Through her varied background, Blazek has developed hands-on knowledge of the challenges faced by the Wisconsin agricultural industry.
Blazek comes to FISC from UW-Extension Cooperative Extension, where she has worked as an agricultural educator since 2011, first in Polk then Dane County. She’s developed educational programming and helped dairy and livestock farmers on production and business management. She was also a FISC instructor.
For the past 20 years, Blazek served as farm manager of a small dairy herd and co-manager of a small grass-fed beef herd in her family’s operation.
The Farm & Industry Short Course matches Blazek’s skill set and strengths with its mix of hands-on activities and personalized learning. Students can customize the 16-week program. Agriculture industry experts teach all of the classes, which range from lectures to labs.
“I am looking forward to continuing the success of the program by building partnerships within the industry and working to engage farmers from all over the state,” Blazek said.
“We are excited to have Jennifer at the helm,” said Richard Straub, senior associate dean of CALS. “Her agricultural background and experience in educational programming put her in a great position to help the college evolve and develop the FISC program to stay current with the changing needs of our industry partners.”