I grew up on the family dairy, but when I was in high school I worked at a sporting goods store because I’ve really never been fond of working with cattle. I figured that a life in the “business” world was going to be better for me. After graduating high school I planned to study business in junior college, but my senior year I quit at the sporting goods store because my dad offered me a much better part time job servicing the dairy’s equipment. That summer before junior college I learned that I had a knack for working with tools, and I realized that there was much more to agriculture than just cows.
The classes were all pretty full in the fall of 2009. Lots of people were going back to school due to the recession, but I came home after registering for my first semester’s classes with a schedule of four Ag Mechanics classes and a Health class.
That fall was a huge turning point in my life. I met my wife and discovered my true passion for Agriculture during that first semester at Modesto Junior College. Looking back those were some of the best days of my life! I married the love of my life during the summer between Modesto Junior College and Cal Poly (yes, we were “that married couple” in college). We were both transferring into Cal Poly’s Ag Science program, and it really just made sense!
At Cal Poly I was able to concentrate in Crop and Soil science. That allowed to me take those crop science classes that interested me without the monotony of majoring in crop science… It really rounded out my education! I was lucky because throughout my college experience I was able to apply what I was learning back at home on the family farm. The immediate application of what I was learning allowed me to be much more engaged and focused, and that has benefited me to this day. I am a firm believer that I was more successful in school because I was able to work in the field that I was studying while I was studying it.
After graduating I went to work full time on the family farm, and that is still where I am today. My main responsibilities are growing the silage for the dairy and maintaining the equipment. I deal with water quality reporting and manure management, and I also do a lot of fabrication depending on the needs of the farm. My job is different every single day, and that’s what I love about it! In fact I have a hard time answering when people ask me what I do for a living, because my job is so diverse.
I’m lucky to farm alongside my father and brother. My brother is passionate about the cattle, and my father most well rounded manager I’ve ever known. We are all able to specialize in what we do best, yet we are a small operation so we are all able to be hands on with what we love.
I still laugh when I think that I nearly missed out on all this. I am so thankful that I didn’t stay in the world of retail. I’m still not fond of working with cattle, but I am passionate about their role in feeding the world. There is room for all sorts in Agriculture. It’s not just cow’s and pitchforks!
That’s my story, thanks for reading it!
Jason Mast is a fourth generation farmer born and raised in the Central Valley. He is a Cal Poly San Luis Obispo graduate with a degree in Agriculture Science, and currently works alongside his father and brother to manage their dairy in Denair, CA.