Portage Daily Register: Path to Farm & Industry Short Course helps teen succeed in school

Baby cows

Jayson Zick had a rough start to high school, but he soon found his way through farming.

Beginning sophomore year, Zick worked full time at Heinze Farms in Portage while attending the Portage Academy of Achievement, an alternative high school. This October he’ll begin the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Farm & Industry Short Course (FISC), which has equipped farmers with agricultural knowledge for more than 130 years.

“I worked a lot, so I wasn’t always at school during harvest season,” Zick told the Portage Daily Register, describing the circumstances that led him to the alternative high school. Instead of scolding him, the school saw farming as a learning opportunity. He got to keep his job and complete his schoolwork at his own pace.

Personalized learning, practical applications

With a focus on hands-on activities and personalized learning, the Farm & Industry Short Course should be a good match for Zick. Students can customize the 16-week program with courses in areas such as soils, crops, dairy, meat animals, agricultural engineering, agribusiness, farm business planning, and communications. Agriculture industry experts teach all of the classes, which range from lectures to labs.

After graduation, FISC students find many types of agricultural jobs, including crop assistant, milker, herdsman, and farm manager.

Though Zick hopes to help cows birth calves, he’s open to almost any type of farm-related job. He also hopes to start his own farm someday.

FISC’s combination of research-based information and practical applications should give him the tools he needs to achieve these goals.

Since the program takes place during the non-growing season—late fall, winter, and early spring—farm duties won’t pull Zick away from his studies. Plus, he’ll get to experience UW-Madison traditions such as Badger football games, Babcock ice cream, and ice skating at the Shell recreational facility with fellow students.

The application deadline for the next Farm & Industry Short Course is September 1. For more information on FISC, see here.

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