Inside Ivy Tech: Draft horse dreams

Photo courtesy Jonathan Kratzer

Agriculture graduate sets sights on Anheuser-Busch farm

Rebecca Marshall grew up around horses. Her grandfather has had them since before she was born. She grew up driving draft horses, and she interned last summer on a horse farm. When she was 8 or 9, she started showing them in 4-H, where she was a 10-year member. She still shows draft horses in county fairs and large shows.

Marshall has always known she wanted to study agriculture, so when Ivy Tech Community College Northeast began its Agriculture program in fall 2013, she signed up. She even wonders if she was the very first student to do so.

Marshall was one of seven students enrolled in the program when it kicked off two years ago. Last semester, she finished. In May, she will march during Commencement.

In the meantime, there’s that pesky business of finding a job.

Click on images for caption info and to zoom.

And she found one she wants. Really, really wants. We’re talking dream-job levels of crossing the fingers and preparing a resume as perfect as possible.

She wants to work with the Budweiser Clydesdales.

You know the ones—they pull the sleigh in the holiday commercials and star in all of the Super Bowl commercials.

Through a job she worked during the summer, Marshall knew someone who might be able to hire her at his company.

“There were no openings, but he mentioned a place that’s always hiring,” Marshall says. “When he said the name, I almost dropped to the floor.”

He said Anheuser-Busch.

“He gave me the contact info for the guy who operates the barns,” she says. “I’m putting my resume together and sending it out. It’s one of those jobs that you never really expect to get, but you have to see whether you’re capable of getting the job.”

If Marshall were to land the job, she might find herself traveling with the draft horses around the country. She might find herself in the breeding barn, working with and training the mares and foals.

What differentiates a draft horse from a riding horse is its size—a draft horse is larger. Also called a work horse, draft horses typically have a mild temperament and are used a lot by the Amish for plowing fields.

“They’re called the gentle giants,” Marshall says.

Kelli Kreider, the College’s agriculture chair, worked with Marshall on her resume and cover letter, helping her figure out how to best represent how her skills can contribute to the Anheuser-Busch farm.

“It is kind of a dream. I wouldn’t be shocked if she got an interview,” Kreider says, “but I wouldn’t be shocked if she didn’t, either. She’s definitely qualified. I know they would be more than pleased with her. She’s anyone’s dream for working on a farm. She’s amazing.”

Kreider calls Marshall hard-working, dependable, and trustworthy, the kind of student who goes above and beyond what is expected of her, and one who sets high standards for herself.

“She’s always the first volunteer any time we’re doing any kind of promotional event,” Kreider says. “Fort Wayne Farm Show. Promoting the Agriculture program around the community. If I can have all my students be half of the quality she is, oh man, my job would be the best job ever.”

If working with the draft horses doesn’t work out, Marshall does have a Plan B: Get into sales and marketing, working with equipment sales, seed sales, chemical sales.

Regardless of where she ends up, she’s always known she wanted to work in agriculture. Marshall graduated in 2011 from Central Noble High school in Albion, Ind. She began taking general education classes at Ivy Tech Northeast with the plan to transfer to Purdue University or IPFW to eventually complete a bachelor’s degree.

As she was preparing for her final semester before transfer, she noticed “Agriculture” in a dropdown menu on the Ivy Tech website.

“I clicked on it to see what it was, and they had two or three classes listed,” she says. “I signed up.”

Because she was one of the first, Marshall felt like she got to have a say in some of the program’s curriculum—she and her six peers were able to share ideas on what worked, what didn’t, which tests were too easy or too hard. She got to see the program get more supplies and more space, and she got to see it grow nearly 700 percent: from the original seven to 55 as of fall 2015.

“It was a learning experience for all of us, and it was a good one,” she says. “We ultimately had a lot of fun.”

More after-graduation plans

Agriculture chair Kelli Kreider shares some of the post-graduation plans of other students who will graduate from the program in May.

  • Tyler Arrowsmith: Will return to his family’s grain farm outside Churubusco, Ind.
  • Amanda Hubbard: Will pursue a four-year degree at Trine University in Angola, Ind. She has already started classes.
  • Christian Stoner: Got a job as a crop insurance adjuster. He will look at farmers’ fields after a disaster like hail, a tornado, or a flood and determine the damage to figure out how much insurance will pay.
  • Lucas Wright: Will return to his family’s swine farm.
  • Kyle Plasterer: Finished his internship at Weaver Popcorn in the fall, where he was offered a full-time position. Plasterer tested the popcorn, determining if it was a good batch without too much foreign debris. He popped samples to assure the popcorn was harvested at the right time and with the right moisture.

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