Texas A&M University students interested in starting their own business can now learn from former students through the new agricultural entrepreneurship class offered each spring.
The Brock Faulkner Entrepreneurship in Agriculture Lecture Series in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering is in its first semester and counts toward the entrepreneurship minor offered at Texas A&M. The class is designed to help students learn about the aspects of being an entrepreneur.
“Students within the department were surveyed, and over 30% had business ideas but did not know how to make it happen,” said Greg Stark, assistant professor in the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering.
The idea was formed to create a one-hour class to help students understand the aspects of entrepreneurship and business planning, Stark said. Having an entrepreneurship class puts students at an advantage, especially those who want to start their own business within the agriculture industry, Stark said.
Students who create new technologies can catch the eye of investors. According to Future Farming, agriculture technology startups in 2018 alone had brought in over $895 million at the end of the third quarter.
Once a week, a former student of the department is a professor for the day, Stark said. The former student will lecture about their success with their own entrepreneurship experience.
“I definitely have more confidence because I have seen others with the same major succeed,” said Matthew White, junior agricultural systems management student.
The former student spends the afternoon on campus and is available to discuss entrepreneurship with students, Stark said. A rotating schedule of four to five students in the class will have the chance to go out to dinner with the former student during the evening, Stark said.
“There is a specific time slot set aside in my schedule so I can sit down with the former student after class,” White said. “It is really nice to have this time for one-on-one conversation.”
There is no shortage of former students who are eager to be the professor for the day. Most former students who lecture have been on the Mays Business School’s Aggie 100 list released annually. According to the Mays Business School website, the list is created to honor the top 100 fastest growing Aggie-owned or operated businesses in the world.
“We are proud that our students consistently make the Aggie 100,” Stark said.
Students interested in signing up for the class next spring should look for AGSM/BAEN 281, Entrepreneurship in Agriculture. It is a one-hour credit class consisting of a formal lecture, a one page paper on each lecture and a thank-you note after each speaker.
Brock Faulkner, Ph.D., was a beloved professor within the department until he died from leukemia. The faculty wanted to honor his memory in a special way, so they established the Brock Faulkner Entrepreneurship in Agriculture Lecture Series based on a donation.
“ Brock Faulkner was a prolific entrepreneur,” Stark said. “He always had several business plans in his drawer, and we have been looking for a way to honor him within the department.”
Although the class has gone well during its first run, Stark said that they want to make progress in the coming years. Stark would like to create stronger links between current and former students and establish a mentorship program.
The class is currently open to students, faculty and staff on campus, but the department plans to have a video feed for those who are off campus and would like to listen in.
For more information about the lecture series, visit the department’s website or Facebook, Twitter or Instagram page.
Article by Jessica Schaeffer
For details about this news story and others please contact Stormy Kretzschmar, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story was written in AGCJ 313: Agricultural Media Writing I taught by Dr. Hollie Leggette in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education, and Communication