As a business major, Andrew Neddo sometimes surprised people when he told them he planned to work on his family’s dairy farm in Barre, Vermont after he graduated. Many students didn’t consider that a typical business career.
However, the skills Andrew gained have helped him as the family has expanded the farming operation with a vineyard and winery, a step they took because of challenges with the dairy industry in Vermont and around the country.
Business Classes Boost His Dairy Farm
“My main goal was to figure out a way to keep my land and the farm. I wanted to learn how businesses are run and find businesses that could help keep the farm going forward. I chose business because I thought that was the best avenue to keep the farm,” Andrew said.
The skills he gained in courses on market research, creating a business plan, developing a marketing strategy, and other aspects of business “have definitely helped with the winery,” he said. “I learned how to take steps to get where we want to get … by putting things down on paper and not just talking about it, to make sure we’re reaching goals and desired outcomes.”
As useful as his business courses have been, Andrew also has relied on skills he built in classes outside his major. He appreciates the liberal arts foundation, which introduces students to a range of academic programs so they can broaden their skill set.
“One thing that stands out is that you don’t just focus on your major. You have to take other classes to graduate,” Andrew said. “That’s really helpful, and because of that, I took website design, intro to digital media, and art classes. Those are skills that ultimately have helped my business. I can create logos, bottle labels, and brochures for our winery, which I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”
The videography skills he developed in a course gave Andrew the confidence to enter Nikon’s national Follow Your Passion video contest, and his short video on farming won second place this year behind the grand prize and first-place winners.
The video focuses on what Andrew enjoys about farming — working with his father and grandfather, helping animals grow and stay healthy — and the challenges of equipment breakdowns, financial struggles, and occasional burnout from long hours.
Through some recent tough years with dairying, his family has improved the quality of their milk, and their wine business is growing.
“I’m proud that we’re still farming. We’re still going,” Andrew said. “It’s definitely what I want to continue to do and what I feel like I’m supposed to do.”
Supportive Professors, Tight-Knit Campus Community
His business professors supported him and his plan to branch out with the farm.
“They said, ‘You need to find something else to allow it to go into the future, not just do the same thing,’” Andrew said. “The professors were all interested in helping me. In the business department, they were always encouraging me to work hard and do my best.”
The tight-knit campus community helped Andrew do his best.
“It’s small, so I could be an actual name, not a number, in the classroom. I could get one-on-one help if I needed it,” he said. “You’re not one of many thousands of students, and you get to know everybody, including people who work in the dining hall and custodians. It’s more personal.”