Alumnus recalls how college and change led to real-world success

Tim VanReenenBy Tim VanReenen, ’06, ’08, president of the CALS Alumni Organization

My student experience in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences started with a dream — I wanted to return to my family farm in Hillsboro, West Virginia, but I always struggled with the question of how to make space in the operation for myself.

This question and many others were answered in two courses I took while earning my degree in agricultural economics — small business management and agricultural finance. I remembered Professor David Kohl and Instructor Alex White speaking about diversification being a way to bring individuals — and money — back to the farm.

Now that I had answered one question, many more were created. How should I diversify? How do I get from where I am to where I want to be? Can I be profitable? To answer these questions, I relied on the courses I was taking and the wisdom of my professors.

I learned how to develop a business, which helped me figure out how to diversify and develop a new segment of the farm. Using financial projections from my agricultural finance course, I learned how to create a budget and could see where a profit could be made.

With my degree in hand, I returned to my family farm and successfully implemented a new plan to diversify into hay and row crop production along with the existing cattle herd. My education was a roadmap to my dreams.

As the head of the CALS Alumni Organization, I’m constantly meeting other alumni who have similar success stories of how they are putting their degrees to work and how one professor or class in particular made all the difference in their careers.

All these years later, I’m still thankful to Kohl and White!

Get involved! For more information, please reach out to any board member or our college’s director of alumni relations, Jamie Lucero, at 540-231-9666.