Ag Ed Graduate Student Spotlight: Matt Frenchick
Growing up on a farm just a few miles south of Paynesville, Minnesota, current graduate student, Matt Frenchick, developed a love for agriculture that would eventually lead him to the University of Minnesota.
“On our farm, we have a small to medium herd of purebred Jersey cattle, along with a few horses,” Matt said. While growing up, Matt was very active in 4-H and FFA. “For 4-H, I showed cattle ever since I was little, along with a large number of general exhibits.” His love for dairy cattle overlapped with his involvement in 4-H as he participated in the Dairy Knowledge Bowl, which led to many state championships, two national contests, and winning a contest held during the World Dairy Expo. Matt also shared his love for dairy cattle with FFA, as he participated on the Dairy Evaluation Career Development Team from seventh grade to his senior year of high school, making it to the state contest twice.
Those state FFA contests are what helped Matt fall in love with the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus. “I also wanted to go to the school that my father and sister attended for their doctorate degrees in Veterinary Medicine,” he said. Matt originally wanted to double major in Animal Science and Agricultural Education, but after having a conversation with Dr. Amy Smith, they both agreed that Matt should graduate with an Animal Science degree and then apply to the master’s program for Agricultural Education. “That was most definitely the best option, and it still is. It has allowed me to interact with the people I have been taking classes with for a few semesters now.” Matt graduated in the spring of 2016 from the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Science with a Dairy Production emphasis.
During his time at the University of Minnesota, Matt has been involved with Gopher Dairy Club, Agricultural Education Club, Fisheries and Wildlife Club, Forestry Club, and is an active member of the Delta Theta Sigma (DTS) Fraternity. Through these clubs he was able to serve on different committees and he is the current secretary and executive board member for DTS. Last spring, Matt was the teaching assistant for Tony Seykora’s Introduction to Animal Science class. “I primarily helped with the labs during the week. I really enjoyed working with the students and watching them learn how to handle and work with animals. This was especially great to see with the students that had little to no experience with large animals.” Matt also had the opportunity to intern with the Minnesota Zoo in their Education and Volunteer department. Through that experience, he was placed at the Wells Fargo Family Farm and had the chance to interact with staff, volunteers, and visitors. He primarily focused on answering questions from visitors and volunteers, helping to enhance their experience on the farm.
Though these experiences proved to be beneficial for Matt, his favorite class was AFEE 1001: Introduction to Agricultural Education, Communication and Marketing. “Through this class, I got to meet Amy Smith and really get to know her well. We always went back and forth with each other, which made the class enjoyable.” He also really enjoyed AFEE 2096, where students complete an early field experience. “I shadowed Pam Koenen at Alden-Conger High School. Through that experience, I had the opportunity to sit in on meetings, interact with her students, and even help teach a couple of lessons.” All of these experiences have helped Matt find his ideal career path: “My dream job right now would be an agricultural instructor near where I grew up. I know this area well and the agriculture surrounding it. This would allow me to bring in outside sources to help facilitate classroom lessons.”
Matt’s advice for incoming freshmen and current U of M students is to “find clubs or a sorority or fraternity that is the best fit for you. Join clubs even if you are not going to school for that topic. If you find it interesting, join it. This will give you a great chance to meet people that can later become friends.”