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UW-River Falls Crop and Soil Science student graduates on the fast track

February 5, 2016

Joseph Markgraf came to the University of Wisconsin-River Falls (UWRF) from his hometown of Antigo in August 2013, and left in December 2015 with his diploma in hand and a full-time position. Markgraf is one of only five students in the past 15 years who entered UW-River Falls with fewer than 10 credits and graduated in 2.5 years or less.

Markgraf first connected with UWRF at World Dairy Expo in 2012, when he stopped by the UWRF booth staffed by the College of Agriculture, Food and Environmental Sciences (CAFES). He ultimately chose to major in Crop and Soil Science with an emphasis in crop science.

It wasn’t until his second semester at UWRF that he thought he might be able to graduate in less than four years. In order to pay for college, Markgraf had to work full-time, which left him with little time to himself. This difficult situation motivated him to complete his degree as soon as he could.

“Keep focused and stay determined,” was his constant reminder to himself when his goal didn’t seem possible.
His last semester at UWRF may have been his most challenging, he said. In August, he accepted a position with DuPont Pioneer, to partner with Cropping Central LLC, to be a sales agronomist based in Antigo. While completing his last 23 credits of coursework this past fall, Markgraf headed home every weekend to handle his new responsibilities, which included serving as a crop consultant and selling seed and crop insurance.

Despite spending less time at UWRF than most students, Markgraf said, “It opened my eyes to many different backgrounds, and with that different views and opinions.”

“Joe was not only a hard-working and dedicated student, he was also a pleasure to have in class,” said Don Taylor, UWRF professor of crop science and Markgraf’s academic adviser. “He was more willing than most to question ideas and to find practical applications to the course materials. His comments and questions increased the interest for students and instructor.”

Although he now has more control over his time, don’t expect Markgraf to slow down too much. He intends to devote significant time to growing his business and also plans to be very active in the Antigo FFA Alumni and county Farm Bureau organizations. In addition, last May, Markgraf took another unusual step for someone so young when he purchased a home just north of Antigo.

Markgraf noted how the connections he made at UWRF are already showing up in his career.

“I believe I will run into many of the friends I made at UWRF quite often in the years to come,” he said.

For more information, email laura.walsh@uwrf.edu or call 715-425-3535.