Alumni Spotlight: Courtney Nelson

Courtney Nelson
Meet Courtney Nelson, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln alumna who graduated in December 2021 with a mechanized systems management degree. | Photo by Stella Imaging
August 30, 2022

Graduation Date: December 2021 

Major: Mechanized Systems Management  

What is your current position? 

I am a precision agriculture trainer at Northeast Community College.  

How did your time in CASNR shape your career path? 

When I was in college, I had two people ask me why I chose to go into agriculture. Both times, the question unsettled me. It made me question what I was doing and second guess that perhaps I shouldn’t be in this field. Maybe there was another industry that was better for me. However, I kept persisting and kept diving deeper into my studies. I can now see that the reason I chose the agriculture space is because I love working with to be more intentional with our decisions. I chose precision agriculture systems, and I became fascinated with the problems that agriculturists are working to fix everyday. The CASNR and agriculture community is very close and supportive, so I knew this would lead me on a path that would be very fulfilling.  

What is the most fulfilling aspect of your job? 

I thrive when I get to go to career fair events or classrooms and interact with students. When the students can connect the activities that we are doing with real-world concepts and I can tell they are having fun, I leave with fuel to continue working towards my goal of encouraging others to become lifelong learners.   

What activities were you involved in during your time at UNL? 

Three organizations were a big part of my time at UNL. One of those was serving on the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council where I served as a head counselor in my final year. I also was part of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program where I got involved in a variety of activities to really challenge my comfort zone. A third major organization was The Lutheran Center, which kept me connected to City Campus. I got really involved in these three programs and received tremendous value from each of them. I was also involved in the Mechanized Systems Management Club and the Honors Program.  

What is your best memory of your time in CASNR? 

One of my favorite things about walking across campus was I always ran into somebody I knew. It didn’t matter if I was leading a tour as an ambassador or biking to class, I could always find someone to wave at or stop and chat with. The sweetest moment was at Salute to Grads when I was awarded the Nicole Frerichs CASNR Spirit Award. It meant so much to me to be surprised by the CASNR staff, and I am forever grateful for the experience I had through CASNR.  

How did CASNR prepare you for your life outside of work? 

My mechanized systems management degree really challenged me to work on real-world problems. My extracurriculars that I mentioned have helped me connect the dots between what we were doing in our classes and how it fit into the real world. The team at CASNR is continually working to shift and improve their services, so we can keep up with the everchanging world.  

What do you think IANR and CASNR contribute to Nebraska, the United States and the world? 

They are building problem-solvers and encouraging them to go out and try things. They challenge you to go back to the rural communities, the coasts and across the globe. They provide opportunities to engage you in a wide variety of environments, so you can work in a space that you really want to be in.   

What is your one piece of advice for current CASNR students? 

Take advantage of the unique opportunities CASNR has to offer. Travel abroad, utilize the Career Services Team and get to know the CASNR crew. Find out what works for you. Don’t be scared to say no or change your mind. Seize every opportunity. You are a work in progress, and allow yourself to make mistakes.