Spotlight: Pauline Van Nurden

We recently had the opportunity to catch up with Pauline Van Nurden.  Pauline is an Extension Economist with the Center for Farm Financial Management (CFFM) here in the department.  Pauline came to the University to earn her Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Economics and followed up with an M.Ed. in Agricultural Education.  Her career in education began in the classroom and then she went on to teach farm management to adults before becoming an agricultural lender.  All of her training and experience set the stage for her return to the U where she is now an effective and popular Extension Economist.  Her wealth of experience has brought new insights to the ongoing process of continually enhancing the FINPACK farm financial software.

Currently, Pauline co-leads the farm financial benchmarking efforts in Minnesota and thirteen other collaborating states to review and compile over 3,300 individual farm records annually into FINBIN, the national farm financial benchmarking database.  In addition, she leads much of the training for lenders and educators using the FINPACK software program.  She also leads the effort to create resources that will aid FINPACK users in their needs.  She writes a bi-weekly blog that is read by hundreds of lenders. These efforts, along with farm financial update presentations, teaching at ag lending schools, and other invited teaching opportunities encompass much of her Extension teaching and research.  

In her own words:

I have always been interested in numbers and finance.  My degrees allowed me to focus on all my interests - agriculture, business, and education. My parents utilized the FINPACK program for their farming operation and my father-in-law was a long-time Farm Business Management (FBM) instructor. 

I thoroughly enjoyed working with farm families on their farm financial management needs.  I did switch roles and join the ranks of ag lending for a community bank.  There I could help farmers with their financing needs and provide education in a different setting.  I joined the University almost 6 years ago because of a family move.  I initially started as an Extension Educator on the Ag Business Management Team.  After two years, I transitioned to CFFM and became an Extension Economist.  

I provided leadership to the Ag Business Management Extension program "Taking Charge of YOUR Finances: How to Survive and Thrive.” This 5-hour workshop helped Minnesota farmers strengthen their management skills.  I also was co-creator of the "Minnesota Women in Agriculture Network.”  This program provided female farmers with targeted, timely risk management education to help support their specific needs.  

Currently, I am working on an Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) grant with Dr. Hadrich entitled "Organic Farm Financial Benchmarking in the Upper Midwest.”  Our goal with this grant is to expand the organic data in the FINBIN database and provide organic versus conventional production information for farms in the Midwest. 

My goal is to continue to assist CFFM in meeting its mission of improving the farm financial management abilities of farmers and the professionals who serve them through educational software and training programs.  Helping farmers succeed is ultimately what I see my work focused on today and into the future.