Ridgewater College agricultural career Friday in Willmar connects students with employers

·2 min read

Dec. 6—WILLMAR — Ridgewater College held its annual career fair Friday for agricultural jobs throughout the Midwest.

The event is designed to provide one of the first steps for students and employers to connect, allowing high school and college students to network and submit applications to the more than 50 companies present.

Kellie Wilts, a second-year agricultural student at Ridgewater in Willmar, said she already had two interviews by 10 a.m.

Wilts works as one of eight Ridgewater agricultural department ambassadors who give tours to potential students as well as help with events such as the career fair.

"Obviously, as a college, we're looking to recruit potential students but we also want to give high-schoolers the opportunity to look at what's out there," she said. "College isn't the answer for everybody, and if we show them different careers, especially in (agriculture) because that's what we're promoting, we can hopefully get more involved for the next generation."

About 130 students attended this year's event, according to Tammy Howe, agricultural department coordinator for Ridgewater College. Students were able to interact with businesses at booths in the college's gymnasium, attend company presentations and participate in on-the-spot interviews.

"It's a really great event for students to be able to network and to be able to collaborate with these different companies," Howe said. "We have big names that are present here, and we have some really nice local companies. Really, it's just all in the name of agriculture and promoting that great industry."

Ziegler CAT, one of the companies at the event and which is headquartered in Bloomington, is looking to hire skilled technicians as well as multiple other positions, including for entry-level jobs.

"Technicians are pretty hard to get; there's a lot of competition and there's not so many of them," said Dave Ose, branch manager for Ziegler CAT in Willmar. "But Ziegler hires for everything — accounting, and marketing and sales and parts service — not just one little thing."

Ose, who started out as a mechanic 27 years ago at Ziegler CAT and is now a technician, said it's been harder to hire people with a lot of experience, so the company has been branching out to events like Ridgewater's to recruit.

Ose said that he was surprised when he learned the company had a recruiter 20 years ago.

"Now they have like five or six full-time recruiters and they're busier than heck trying to recruit crew," he said.

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