Ship student raising moola to pay tuition

October 11, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

HAGERSTOWN -- Benjamin Barnett has not one cash cow paying for his college education, but 13.

Barnett, 20, raises and sells cattle to make tuition payments at Shippensburg (Pa.) University. It's a process he says makes him more mature and business-minded.

"If I'm not feeding cows, I'm studying," he said.

Barnett raises registered Angus for breeding and Holsteins for commercial dairy operations. He loads them into a trailer and hauls them to New Holland, Pa., for auction.

"I sell to Amish men. They like the fat heifers I sell them," Barnett said, saying he names the animals and treats them like pets.


He currently has 10 Holsteins and three Angus in the herd, which he said is smaller than usual. They are split between his parents' Mason Dixon Road farmette and a rented pasture nearby.

Barnett, a 2008 graduate of Grace Academy, studied biology at Hagerstown Community College before enrolling in Shippensburg University's preveterinary program. He described a seamless transition between the two colleges.

His mother's extended family helped Barnett develop a love of agriculture. He works on their farm, doing chores like milking and harvesting crops.

"We milk 189 cows," Barnett said.

Barnett made $2,400 last year from selling his own cattle and expects to net about $1,000 this year. Remaining profitable is due largely to family resources and knowing farmers who lend equipment, he said.

"You have to keep track of your expenses so you know what you can spend and can't spend," Barnett said.

Waking up early to care for animals no matter the day or weather doesn't appeal to Barnett as a long-term plan. Despite all the work, farmers are lucky to make a 10 percent profit, he said.

"My main goal is to become a veterinarian and make money for my family," including fiancee, Kelsey Marie Oliver, Barnett said. If he reaches his career goal, he hopes to specialize in food animals.

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