Katie Dotterer-Pyle: My husband and I branched out and started our own dairy farm, Cow Comfort Inn Dairy, in 2009, so I feel that the Business Management course helped me tremendously, since I now manage people, and (800) cows! The marketing courses were my favorite though. I use my marketing skills constantly, especially social media marketing, where we use the hashtag #AskAFarmerNotGoogle.
Besides the dairy farm, I have started other businesses, and the skills I learned through the BAMM program have helped with getting those businesses up and running and with marketing. I started and created and currently instruct a two level 8-week online Spanish course called, Spanish on La Granja (on the farm) which I designed and tailored specifically to the dairy industry due to the fact that 80% of the labor force are Spanish-speaking. It is essential to be bilingual in order to communicate effectively and I wanted to help other farm owners and industry professionals do just that. We also just launched a mobile ice cream trailer, Cow Comfort Creamery, in the beginning of April and I also started and operate an online merchandise retail store; another marketing tool I use for all the above businesses.
Katie: One of the things that sticks out to me the most, being a business owner, is the importance of offering services, rather than just a product to customers. Another thing that was emphasized at South Hills is how to treat employees. I am a people-person, and feel that it is important to make everyone feel valued and included.
Katie: To be successful in the BAMM program, I would say you need to be disciplined and a self-starter. I would also say it is a plus to be a people-person.
Katie: Personable, valuable, and caring. The faculty and staff really cared about the students, and it showed. Personally, I had great experiences with Mike Gates, BAMM Program Coordinator/Instructor, and Sue Vidmar, who is now the Director of Education and was an instructor when I was a student. They were always available to talk to when I needed something.
Katie: I think it’s very valuable for instructors to have experience working in their chosen professions, as I would much rather learn from someone who has actually worked in or owned a business. The type of information that you receive from the instructors is something that you wouldn’t be able to find by reading a textbook.
Katie: I feel that a lot of people overlook two-year schools. There aren’t any “fluff” courses at South Hills, and you get right into learning what you’re actually there for and interested in. I myself wasn’t much of a school person, but I went to gain knowledge to be able to help run our family business, and not having all of those extra courses was very helpful.
Katie: One piece of advice I would give is don’t be afraid to ask questions, and to make sure you fully understand the material you’re learning. Another thing is, don’t be afraid to meet new people!