Hands-on training in the field toughens up this young farmer

There was never a doubt in Mark Minnicus’ mind that he would come back to the family farm. After graduating from Delphi High School, Mark entered into a two-year program at Muscatine Agricultural School in Muscatine, Iowa. But his goal was always to come back to Carroll County.

Key Points

• Love of the farm helped young farmer Mark Minnicus set goal of coming home.

• An internship on a large-scale farm exposed Mark to valuable ideas.

• Mark and his father work together and trust each other.

The ag center at Muscatine offers students a combination of classroom learning and hands-on training. Students can intern on large-scale farms. Brian Mills, New Boston, Ill., was instrumental in the way Mark views progressive marketing, technology and grain systems today.

Showed early promise

Of the 15 or so students Mills has worked with, he proudly states that Minnicus was a cut above the rest. “I found that Mark obviously had good training along the way,” he says. “He was skilled mechanically, very mature for his age and self-confident to the point I found it easy to hand over responsibility to him.”

After the program ends, Mills answers a questionaire regarding each student. “I’ve never given anyone the highest possible rating, but I did for Mark,” Mills says. “He was always very methodical and never abused any piece of equipment.”

Like father …

Now home from Muscatine, Mark appreciates the hard work his dad, Jerry, has put into their family farm. He’s especially proud because his father started the farm from scratch. Jerry came from a family of builders, not farmers.

Jerry’s interest in farming, coupled with a lot of hard work, has allowed him to have a successful farm and a custom building business, JB Enterprises, on the side.

Raised in an atmosphere of farming and construction, Mark feels he has the best of both worlds. He credits his dad with being his most influential teacher.

… like son

Though Mark always thought he’d be back working the ground he loved, he didn’t take it for granted. He’s thankful for the fact that his dad trusts him and has given him the chance to have freedom to do what he loves on a daily basis.

“I’m good at repairing tractors and semis, and Dad lets me take care of things in those areas,” Mark says.

Since Mark has returned to the farm, he’s excited to share with his dad different farming practices he’s learned, such as introducing different crop rotations and using more no-till.

“Mark is very up-to-date,” Jerry says. “He’s into modern farming. During his internship, Mark witnessed excellent farms with advanced grain systems and recordkeeping that was impeccable.”

And Jerry acknowledges Mark has changed his way of thinking about modern farming. He also says he relies on his son. “I know I can leave the farm and trust Mark to do what needs to be done,” he concludes.

McClain writes from Greenwood.

Mark Minnicus at a glance


Town/County: Delphi, Carrroll

Parents: Jerry and Peggy Minnicus

Siblings: Morgan — student at Purdue University

Education: Delphi High School 2007; Muscatine Ag School

Scope: Farms 1,000 acres of row crops with his dad, with 200 acres of hay and 50 head of beef cattle

Worth noting: Placed third in national contest for Agri-Business/Marketing Systems

This article published in the October, 2010 edition of INDIANA PRAIRIE FARMER.

All rights reserved. Copyright Farm Progress Cos. 2010.