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Fifth-generation farmer Kaitlyn Schumacher finds opportunities to grow

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It’s not just riding the pickup truck along the farm’s dirt roads anymore. Kaitlyn Schumacher is preparing for the next generation of her family’s farm, with a degree in business administration and finance with an option in family business.

May 9, 2023

By Rebecca Barrett

For Family Business Student of the Year Kaitlyn Schumacher, there’s nothing like summer nights on the farm.

She likes riding in the back of the pickup along dirt roads.

The spectacle of thunderstorms brings excitement.

She looks forward to the late-night family dinners in the field.

One of Schumacher’s fondest memories from her family’s Scio farm is celebrating her birthday mid-harvest.

“I spend my day very differently than most,” Schumacher said. “But my family always makes it special.”

After an early-morning coffee run, where the baristas think it’s crazy that she works on her birthday, she heads back to the grass seed fields. Whatever equipment she is operating is decorated with balloons by her mom. There are donuts for breakfast and her grandparents deliver lunch.

“Then we end the night with a tailgate pizza party in the field with all the workers,” Schumacher said.

Schumacher, who is completing her junior year and is studying business administration and finance with an option in family business, is receiving the 2023 Family Business Student of the Year Award, presented by the Center for Family Enterprise at Oregon State University.

Schumacher graduated valedictorian of her high school class, despite having her senior year cut short by the global pandemic. She spent her first year of college entirely over Zoom, but she chose to live in a dorm to preserve a normal experience.

“Campus was quiet and eerie at times,” she recalled. “I learned a lot about myself and grew immensely from it.”

She’s glad to be getting a truer college experience, including watching the rivalry football game and getting to rush the field in a sea of orange cowboy hats.

At the College of Business,  Schumacher has continued her academic achievements, maintaining a 4.0 GPA while staying involved as a teaching assistant in business law, participating in a sorority and being a member of the collegiate farm bureau.

Outside of school, her hobbies include camping, working out, hunting, snowmobiling and hiking. Spending time with family, friends and her dog, Lewis, is also important. Schumacher is training with her younger sister, Kassidy Schumacher, a freshman studying nutrition at OSU, to run the Newport Marathon in June.

She’s always excelled in math and started out studying accounting. But she switched to family business and finance when she realized how much she loves farming.

“I couldn’t imagine not being heavily involved,” Schumacher said.

Her studies in human resources, operations management, analytics, business law, budgeting and bookkeeping have prepared her for greater responsibility.

“All of which will translate to my daily tasks on the farm and I believe will prove to be very beneficial in helping run my family business,” she said.

She feels prepared to meet the uncertainties of farming.

“Whether it is the weather or markets, you can never be 100% certain,” Schumacher said.

In the family business management course, she learned how unique family businesses are, how challenging they can be and how important it is to act proactively.

“The class was eye-opening!” Schumacher said. “It provided many good conversation-starters with my parents around the dinner table in terms of our future and the future of the family business.”

She plans to return to A&R Farms after graduation to assist her parents in running the business, which recently doubled its acreage. She’s been shadowing her dad for as long as she can remember and has progressed from pulling weeds and picking rocks, to operating and servicing the machinery. 

This summer, she’ll be managing the farm’s new seed cleaning facility during harvest before switching to run a blade for the custom land-leveling service the business provides.

“I enjoy testing my limits and pushing myself out of my comfort zone,” she said. “I am always looking for opportunities to grow.”

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