WESTBROOK, Minnesota (STPNS) --     Westbrook —  This past year Linda Chapman Carter is starting  a new era in her professional career in agriculture education. Carter who was raised on her family’s farm southwest of Westbrook, graduated from Westbrook High School in 1986.

    She  attended South Dakota State University, graduating with a degree in Agriculture Education and Mathematics. She had her first teaching  job at Osakis where she taught agriculture there for one year. After teaching there she discovered that she didn’t much care for teaching shop based classes. After a bit of soul searching  she went back to get her Mathematics degree so she could teach both agriculture and mathematics.

    After completing her Mathematics degree she taught at Castlewood,  South Dakota where she taught math and science courses for three years in  the early nineties. She also did other extra curricular activities which included coaching volleyball. During  the summers she returned home to help with the farming chores on the Chapman farm.

    Wanting to get closer to home Carter took a teaching job at Milroy teaching math and science along with some coaching for a year.

    During her time there Westbrook  superintendent Steve Kjorness got a hold of her and had a conversation with her about a part time position working with Ron Kelsey from RRC who was working with WWG and  RRC at the time. She wanted to be able to teach both Ag and Math. Well it worked out that is what she was able to do,  plus she would be able to teach science  based agriculture rather than shop based agriculture. She also was able to coach volleyball and started to advise the FFA program.

    She noted at that time  the FFA program was at a low point at WWG. She says the first year she advised it she took two kids to the  state convention.  Today even though she is not teaching in the school,  she continues to work with the FFA with Josh Barron and Doug Lee. She noted last year the FFA has a bus load of 50 members attending the State FFA convention. “It had grown into one of the premier FFA chapters in the state,” she said.

    Carter said when she started at WWG it was part time agriculture and math. Leonard McLauglin was the industrial tech teacher, and Jim Soll was the other math teacher.

    In 2001 Linda married her husband, Craig Carter. In the early 2000’s the ag program was flourishing, and the district had to hire a full time ag instructor due to the increased enrollment.

    In 2007 Carter took a leave from teaching to help Craig out on the farm and construction business, until her kids Colton and Leah got older.

    However she never quit working with the FFA program and continues today working in the program. She said Josh and Doug do a great job with the organization helping to make the WWG FFA a premier chapter. Carter is proud of how the program has become very successful, not only in state teams but national teams as well.

    Carter says being a professional Farm Management instructor at the college level has given her a chance to work with former high school students who have gone on to be farmers. It is a chance to go back and teach things to them that they were not able to learn about in high school.  It is really great to work with young farmers on a one to one basis.

    She started working with Minnesota West about a year ago going to the University of Minnesota to learn about the FinPack financial program.     

    “We tailor an individual program for our students to set up  financial documents which include a spread sheet which takes into consideration Cost of Production for each field of crops and livestock production. The FinPack takes whatever system they are using to develop a computerized system — we will adapt whatever system they are using and put it into the computerized system,” she said.

    They work with new farmers who have been in the business less than  ten years. From post graduates to people over 60.

    They make assessments of their crops and livestock operations, and take the data to establish benchmarks for their particular situations to identify areas that they can become more efficient in their operations.

    New farmers who wish to get into the program can contact any Minnesota West campus.

    The tuition based program is based on individual students. The program usually involves a ten credit course which they receive a certificate for. After completing the course, students can go on to take advanced levels of Farm Management. There are scholarships available for new farmers on a 50 - 50 cost share.

    “Our goal is to have the students get the value or more coming back to them by doing a better job of their marketing and record keeping,” Carter said.

    Carter says, “I really enjoy teaching the one on one part — I didn’t realize  how much I missed the teaching aspect. We try to work with them when they are not busy with planting or harvesting.”