A lot of farm and ranch kids growing up in the '70s and '80s were told by their parents to “get an education” and find a better job than farming or ranching. Lack of profitability and too much daily drudgery drove most of my generation off the farms and ranches where they grew up.

Kids continue to leave and go to better jobs in the city. A lot of them would like to come back and try their hand at managing the old home place. Some have successfully made that midlife transition.

“Getting an education” can mean different things. One kind of education is going off to college and getting a degree. I've met a wide array of farmers and ranchers — some with college degrees, many without. Some of the best managers I know have nothing more than a high school education.

The real difference I see in farm and ranch managers' success isn't in their high school or college education, but in how they have continued to educate themselves after entering the working world. I've met men and women graduates of ag schools 20 years ago who are still trying to implement and apply what they learned in those classrooms, but they have never attended any kind of workshop or school since then.

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