Rob Thomas was a high school technology teacher for nearly five years when he decided he missed working year round on his family’s Western Pennsylvania hobby farm.
To switch careers to agriculture Thomas knew he would need more specialized knowledge. So he searched nationally for an associate degree agronomy program; he did not want to earn another bachelor’s degree. He enrolled at Northeast Community College (Northeast) in Norfolk, Nebraska, in 2017, he said, because it “had one of the best curriculums I saw in the country.”
His next two years of learning were punctuated with stints as a summer intern on the college’s 500-acre farm and part-time work as a teaching assistant and agriculture tutor. His plan had been to look for an agronomy job in Pennsylvania and work on his family’s farm on weekends.
But in May 2019—the day before he graduated from Northeast with two associate of applied science degrees in agronomy and precision agriculture—Thomas was hired as the college’s farm manager. It’s a job that amazingly matches his skills and interests.