The world is very different than it was a year ago. We have all felt the effects of the pandemic—large and small. But in late August and September, as students across the country look to start school again, it has a heightened poignancy.
Joanna Pritchard has just gotten word that her classes at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y., will be 100% virtual. As she heads into her senior year, this semester, and perhaps the whole school year, isn’t going to look anything like it did last year. Club rugby, club field hockey, two part-time jobs, and in-person classes are now all on hold.
That said, speaking with Joanna, you get a sense of can-do and optimism. Perhaps it comes from a growing up on a dairy farm, which Joanna says, “means you must always be ready for the unexpected.” That certainly helped her out this past spring when she found herself back at the family farm in Rome, N.Y., It’s just a 20-minute drive from White’s Farm Supply in Canastota, the dealership where her family has always gone. And it turned out to have just the type of internship Joanna needed to fulfill credits toward her accounting and business administration degree.
To help her balance both school and the summer internship, she has received a scholarship from the Equipment Dealers Foundation, which is also matched by White’s Farm Supply. “I’m very grateful for this scholarship and this opportunity,” says Joanna. “It has allowed me to focus on what matters, rather than worrying about money for school. It also gives me a sense of pride that I’ve been recognized for the hard work I’ve put in, and what I’ve done for the industry.”
Putting It Into Practice
White’s has been the perfect fit for her—not too big, but not too small, either. “I love that it’s a family-owned operation and that I can see all areas of the business in action,” she says. From accounts payable to accounts receivable, she has had the opportunity to see the sales and accounting process from end to end. She also has enjoyed the opportunity to “communicate with team members to help them accomplish the smooth running of the dealership.”
Joanna and her family’s connection to White’s goes way back. Her grandfather, William, went to a one-room school with one of White’s original founders, Dale. But working at White’s has been more than just about a local connection; it’s about the important part they play in the community. “I believe equipment dealers are an underrecognized group of people. Many farmers and local community members depend on them, and they develop strong relationships with the staff,” she says.
As for the coming year, it holds many unknowns, but Joanna remains optimistic. “I’m looking forward to having more of a freeing lifestyle. Usually I have several part-time jobs, two sports and school. But this will be my ‘thinking’ semester, so I can figure out what I really want to do with my career,” she says. One thing about her post-college plans is clear: It will involve working in her field somewhere in the Northeast, so she can be driving distance to the farm, which has been in her family for more than 100 years.
About the Scholarship
The EDF was established in 1988 to provide scholarship funding to help meet the industry’s needs for trained individuals. EDF also provides temporary assistance for dealerships and its employees affected by natural disasters. Learn more about EDF here.