Michigan State University offers opportunities in the U.P. for individuals pursuing careers in agriculture. The Farm Business Incubator at the MSU U.P. Research and Extension Center in Chatham is a residential program that provides agriculture entrepreneurs with tools and technical assistance to build a solid foundation for their farm business.

MSU Institute of Agricultural Technology offers a career-ready associate degree in Agriculture Operations at Bay College in Escanaba (906-217-4196).

Agricultural Training
  • Farm Business Incubator
  • Agricultural Operations at Bay College

About the Career

Farmers and ranchers own and operate mainly family-owned farms. They also may lease land from a landowner and operate it as a working farm. New opportunities are emerging in the agricultural sector to work with universities and non-profits on teaching and research farms.  Agricultural managers manage the day-to-day activities of one or more farms, ranches, nurseries, timber tracts, greenhouses, or other agricultural establishments


Agriculture Student

Job Spotlight

Farmer, Rancher, Agricultural Manager

Median earnings

$33/hr (earnings range: $15 - $55/hr)

Projected job growth to 2024

+1% (Michigan) 


Kate Debs and Joe Newman

Don't Just Take It From Us

"For both of us, years of apprenticing on other farms prepared us to start Mighty Soil Farm—we wouldn’t have been able to hit the ground running without that experience.

MSU North Farm’s Apprentice Farmer Program is a great stepping stone between working for other people and buying your own farm. We own and operate our own business, but the program includes the use of tools and infrastructure that we would otherwise have to sink ourselves into debt to own, not to mention the high cost of purchasing land—we didn’t have to make a big investment just to get started. To be able to jump in, start doing it, and build up a customer base before having to heavily invest in the business was the biggest draw for us.

Farming is labor-intensive—depending on the time of year, it can be a normal 8-9 hour day, or a 12 hour day. But we love being outside all of the time, working with our hands, and seeing steady progress every day. It’s great for both physical and mental health. There’s a real sense of belonging to a local community through farmers' markets and relationships with chefs and other farmers. Owning your own business comes with a huge sense of independence and pride. Oh, and we get to eat really well!"

Kate Debs and Joe Newman
Mighty Soil Farm
Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center - North Farm

What You'll Learn and Do at Michigan State University North Farm

Apprentice Farmer Program

The Apprentice Farmer Program is a farm incubator program that aims to serve as the launching point for individuals interested in starting their own farming enterprise. This residential program provides farming entrepreneurs with the necessary tools and assistance needed to ensure a solid start to their farming career. Land, equipment, tools, and mentorship are provided to qualified applicants for up to five years so they can develop a business plan, establish accounts, build capital, and fine-tune skills. The apprentice farmers have access to technical assistance from the talented North Farm staff and other apprentice farmers to share ideas, techniques, and labor.  The program runs for up to five growing seasons, beginning each year in March.


Michigan State University Upper Peninsula Research and Extension Center - North Farm

Find Us At:

N5431 Rock River Road
Chatham, MI 49816