5 Questions with ... Phillip Wanner, recent college graduate/farmer, Wishek, N.D.
Q: As a recent college graduate, you chose to return to your home area and family agribusiness. What and who helped influence this decision in your life and why?
The tradition of our family and farming operation was a huge factor in my decision to return home after college. I am the fifth generation raised on our farm, and I love what we are able to do every day to keep our business moving forward. I've been told that being happy in your profession is important in life, and this lifestyle exemplifies that lesson. I also love incorporating my knowledge of agriculture into our operation. I have learned much about the industry both growing up and throughout my college years — it is fun to implement my thoughts and ideas and see them in action.
Q: What advice do you have for others interested in pursuing a career in agriculture?
The opportunities are endless. Today, agriculture is such a vast field of work, and all jobs are intertwined. I chose farming as a profession because I have a passion for this business, but there are so many other occupations out there that can be highlighted by a person's interests and strengths. Technology, agronomy, economics, veterinary practice — just to name a few — indicate the endless opportunities in our industry. Take interests, find your strengths and don't ever lose sight of your goals.
Q: What is the greatest challenge you face right now in agriculture?
I feel the greatest challenge facing agriculture today is a lack of understanding. We always hear about some people being so far removed from agriculture that their opinions are wrong, and agriculturists know it all because we are at the center of the industry. It is important for people from both sides to understand one another and respect that people will have different opinions. That is human nature. Everyone is quick to talk about why they have an opinion, but I believe the solution lies in listening. If more effort is put into listening to the questions of others and learning from conversation, understanding can occur.
Q: If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?
I have had many influential people in my life, but if I have to label someone as my mentor, it would be my dad. He has taught me so much about how to run our farm efficiently and effectively. More importantly, he has taught me how to be a good man and citizen and has helped me to realize the importance of family, self-discipline, work ethic, respect and love. Working with him every day is one of the joys of being back on the farm, and I hope to carry those values into my future.
Q: What is your favorite home-cooked meal and why?
Without a doubt, it is Grandma's chicken and dumplings. Cloud-like dumplings combined with the creamed gravy that she cooked the chicken in is a taste any old German would die for! Throw in a side of cucumber salad, and you have a fantastic meal after a hard day's work. I've tried to make the meal myself, but I still can't top Grandma. She is the best!
Wanner graduated from Wishek Public School in 2012 and from North Dakota State University in the spring of 2017 with a bachelor's degree in crop and weed science and minor in animal science. He is a former North Dakota FFA state officer. His goals are to help manage and grow his farm using sustainable farming practices and to stay well informed in agriculture while being a positive advocate for our industry.