Institute of Environmental Sustainability
Major: Environmental science, Class of 2014
Job: Assistant manager at organic farm
As a St. Louis native, Tony Minnick never experienced much of rural America.
He’s more than made up for it recently. After graduating from Loyola in 2014, he worked at a livestock farm in New Hampshire—and then last year moved to Oakway Farms, an organic upstart in Troy, Missouri, about an hour northwest of his hometown.
Here, Minnick talks about finding opportunities to learn, the benefits of both rural and urban farming, and why he feels at home in the country.
How did Loyola prepare you for your career?
From the get-go, Loyola gave me the only real introduction I had to small-scale family farming. I got to produce food directly for consumers and form a relationship with them, so they could learn about where food comes from as well as enjoy all the abundance that comes off the farm.
How did you find your job?
Both of the jobs I found after college were through a website called goodfoodjobs.com. It’s one of the rare industries in America now that still runs under an apprenticeship type of career development. People leaving college with their degree often go back to educate themselves for the more practical skills you can only gain on a farm.
What’s the biggest difference between the “real world” and college life?
We need a lot of young farmers that come from these tight-knit educational backgrounds. These small gardening projects happening in cities might be the main push for people to get into agriculture, but we ultimately need a lot more young people moving into rural environments. It’s been cool to leave an urban university and see how much of the knowledge we gain in the city needs to be brought to the country—and vice versa.
Any advice you would give to someone looking to get into the same field?
There are lots of opportunities out there. People want to find farm managers to operate on their land using more ecologically sound practices. I think you just have to stick with it. That’s been my mantra as I’ve continued to work in the field everyday. There’s a whole lot of funding available for young farmers, and if you stick with it, you can start to find those opportunities.
And finally, where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Ten years from now, I’d like to be running my own version of a model farm that’s mimicked off the ecosystems we can find in the Midwest. Ideally, I’d like to be running a farm that’s engaged with the local community and is hosting events—basically, having some land and running it smartly.