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Farm Business Dean Retires

al brudelie_retirement6/26/12
Jackson Campus
Al Brudelie has been cultivating better farmers for the better part of his life, and next week his career of leading farm business programs will roll to a stop after 37 years.

After growing up in Madelia and earning a University of Minnesota teaching degree, Brudelie taught high school agriculture classes in Truman, then farm business management in Truman for five years in the late 1970s.

“I always enjoyed agriculture and ag education and FFA,” he said. “Afterwards I finished my tour of duty in Vietnam and the GI Bill helped me through college. I liked working with numbers in the agriculture area, and I enjoyed economics, so it was a natural fit.”

He and a brother started a small hobby farming operation in the early ‘80s, and by 1986, Brudelie came to Jackson to supervise the community college’s farm management program.

He has since worked with a number of farm management courses in southern Minnesota, based at the Jackson campus of Minnesota West Community and Technical College, and then he also worked with farm management and small business management courses through South Central College in Mankato over the past eight years.

“What we try to do in farm management is help producers better be prepared for the unexpected,” he said. “A lot of the time we’re teaching them how to better manage their business. Right now farm management is about mitigating risk.”

That teaching has come via 60-credit diploma programs geared around adults who already owned or operated a business, with many class times scheduled over the winters or one-on-one at their place of business.

“It’s an exciting time to be in agriculture. … There’s a lot of good things happening in agriculture, and probably a few not-so-good things too,” Brudelie said. “I think agriculture will continue to change at a brisk pace, probably. Profitability in agriculture has been pretty good until now, which means it’s probably on the verge of changing.”

Part of that change is the injection of youth and technology into farming.

“The last number of years there have been great opportunities, and we’re seeing a lot of young kids going into agriculture,” he said. “We’re busting at the seams with interest, and back in the ‘80s and ‘90s that wasn’t happening.”

Of his 37 years, Brudelie spent 27 at Minnesota West and will put in his last day June 28. A retirement celebration is planned for Tuesday, June 26, at 1 p.m. in the college commons.

“It’s going to be a change. It’s been a great run,” he said. “I’ve always loved education, and it’s been great working with great educators across the state and across the nation.”

Among his retirement plans are some relaxing getaways to his lake home up north and quality time with wife Diane, his two sons — both ag educators — and two grandchildren.

By: Ryan Brinks, News Editor
Jackson County Pilot - Lakefield Standard