Clay Cantrell wants to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and work the family farm. He’s used to helping milk the 80 dairy cows and tend the 3,500 acres that have been in the family for five generations. While others in his generation of the family have also worked the farm, they’ve all moved on, except Clay.
“It’s what I know. It’s what I do, and it’s where my mind goes,” says Clay. And to enhance what he has already learned by his grandfather’s side, Clay has charted a course for his future. In fall, he will start at the University of Tennessee Martin with the goal of getting a Bachelor’s Degree, majoring in Ag Business.
To help him with his goals, Clay has received a scholarship from the Equipment Dealers Foundation, which is also matched by his local dealership, Tennessee Tractor, in Alamo, Tenn. Clay is grateful for the scholarship, saying, “I’m excited to receive it, as it will help me—and in the future, I’ll be helping other people.”
Those at the dealership agree. “I’ve known Clay almost four years and have nothing but positive things to say. There is no doubt in my mind that he’s an excellent candidate for the scholarship,” says Danny Marbury of Tennessee Tractor.
A future in agriculture seems to be a perfect fit. “Operating and selling farm equipment plays a vital role in putting food on our table,” says Clay. Growing up, his grandfather owned a John Deere dealership for 35 years and later became a full-time farmer. In addition, his father has been a sales manager at Tennessee Tractor for the past 24 years. “The equipment industry has interested me from my youth, and I would like to use this scholarship to continue my education in the agricultural field,” adds Clay.
Building on Experience
Once college is underway, Clay will be working at the dealership, learning the ropes and building on his experience. He’ll draw on his time working on the family farm, as well the leadership skills he learned through participating in the Future Farmers of America while he was in high school.
And while college is just beginning, and the future is wide open, Clay does already have plans. “After graduating, I’d like to help enhance farm production not only on my family farm, but other local farms in my community as well,” he says.
For those finishing high school and looking ahead, the future often isn’t as clear as it is for Clay. His advice to others who may be considering a career in agriculture is straightforward. “Keep going on with what you are doing, look into it more and find happiness in what you’re doing,” he says.
Clay also follows his own advice when he views his upcoming work in college and his career: “In the end, it’s about helping other people, it puts food on the table, and it brings me happiness.”
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.