Meanings Ascribed to Experiencing Career Choice Among Minnesota Farmers: A Phenomenological Study

Meanings Ascribed to Experiencing Career Choice Among Minnesota Farmers: A Phenomenological Study

Author: 
David Moriarty
Program of study: 
D.M.
Abstract: 
The lack of interest among millennials and other recent college graduates in careers in farming and farm production support threatens the talent pipeline needed to drive innovation to meet the demands of feeding a future global population. Lack of career interest poses challenges in preserving and promoting the cultural heritage which sustains career interest in farming while inspiring the next generation of techno-oriented college graduates to enter the profession. The purpose of this qualitative transcendental phenomenological study was to develop an understanding of the decision-making experience of career choice among farmers, located in southwest Minnesota. Four themes emerged in this study and relate to the work perception, wanting or desire, family association, and the value of each day. The findings indicate the choice to farm is a combination of the work involved along with close familial ties. Farmers have a strong work ethic and take pride in their effort, choosing to farm because of the bonds that they form early in their lives with the land, environment, and family. Realistically farmers choose this career because they have access to both the land and equipment that often serve as a barrier to entry due to the initial expense outlay. Feelings and emotions of wanting and the desire to farm offer new meanings behind the experience of career choice in farming. The results lead to numerous recommendations that support strategies among various groups of leaders in farming, government, and the private sector for recruiting prospective farmers while supporting current younger farmers.
Dedication: 
To my wife, Jessica. I want to thank you for your unending support, acceptance, and love that you have provided me with what seemed like a never-ending journey. I know this process has not been easy for me and can only imagine how much worse it made you feel to see me with this ongoing struggle that eventually took its toll on my health. Beulah, I appreciate you staying by my side, listening, and being the “glue” in my life. Imogen and Padraic I hope you learn and receive the key takeaways from this study: the value of a strong work ethic, the search, and discovery of what you want or desire in your life, appreciation for your family, and value each day for what it offers. The study is for all past, and future “farmers” in my life who plant seeds just to watch them grow.
Acknowledgements: 
Many individuals offered insight and guidance through the course of this journey, and it is difficult to name everyone. I appreciate all the farmers who were willing to share their experience in this study; you were welcoming and encouraging. I am thankful for the guidance offered by Dr. Kenneth C. Sherman. You helped me overcome many of the roadblocks that were preventing me from completing this degree. A special thank you to Dr. Mackenzie Glander who was willing to step up and assume the leadership responsibility for this research. I want to acknowledge my committee members Dr. Orlando Ramos and Dr. Julie Ballaro for their feedback and academic assistance to ensure academic rigor and standards. Thank you to the Moriarty and Nuytten families for the ancillary support, ideas, and encouragement.