Not every gap year looks the same. In this episode, Michelle Dittmer speaks to Abbey about her farming gap year during COVID-19.
Farming is a big part of who Abbey is; she’s a farmer, she grew up on a farm and you can usually find her spending time with chickens, cows, sheep and whatever animal you can find on a farm.
Abbey took a fifth year in highschool to be a part of her school’s environmental leadership program, then she got her diploma in agriculture and transferred to Guelph University for agriculture university. Although she was doing well in her courses, she wasn’t passionate about it and she didn’t feel like it was helping her achieve her goals, so she didn’t go back.
Growing up on a large grain farm, she wanted to try something new. In the summer, she landed an eight-week position at a livestock farm in Quebec and that’s where she realized she wanted to experience working on different farms.
While working on the farm she listened to the Gap Year Podcast and read the book "Dirt to Soil," which inspired her to take a gap year to follow her passion. The book she read mentioned different farms in Canada, so she sent her resume to a farm in Saskatchewan.
It lined up perfectly as the workers who were suppose to work on the farm couldn't come because of COVID, so from Quebec, she drove to Minton, Saskatchewan.
Throughout her gap year, she toured different farms as she travelled west and they all brought her on to work.
All you have to do is ask and if the answer is no, then you lose nothing because you're in the same spot you were before. But sometimes we're afraid of the word yes because we're scared to put ourselves out there.
Abbey's Gap Year Takeaways
Through her gap year, she discovered her passion for regenerative farming and realized that if she worked on her family farm it would be for her parents, not for her.
She met women who managed their own farm, which inspired her to do the same one day.
She created a huge network of connections as she stopped at farms in Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta and BC.
Taking a Gap Year During the Pandemic
COVID didn't take away from her experience too much as agriculture is essential and farming is done outside. She could still tour farms, work outside and go on hikes along the way. It created the opportunity for her to do this because her original summer job fell through, which sparked her journey. However, she did come home earlier than planned to be with her family as COVID cases started to spike again in Ontario.
Taking a gap year during the pandemic allowed her to make her own decisions and adjust her own path as COVID restrictions loosened and tightened. If you're in school, your university or college adjusts the path for you.
If you're taking a gap year, Abbey advises you to put as much as you can on your plate, so you can figure out what you don't want on your plate.
Check out the same 30-minute session Abbey had, which inspired her to take a gap year.