Faculty Spotlight: Tom Field

Tom Field
Meet Tom Field, director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program.
August 23, 2021

About Tom

Life began on a ranch in western Colorado surrounded by the harsh beauty of the high country. My family was very entrepreneurial, and their influence was significant. 4-H provided life changing experiences, skills and opportunities to grow both professionally and personally; the schools in my home community were high quality and I developed curiosity and a love of learning early in life. After graduating from Colorado State, I spent five years working in the family business before returning to graduate school. My career has been engaged in higher education, trade associations and consulting with agricultural organizations and businesses. I am blessed to be married to Laura - an exceptional person who has been willing to pursue life’s adventures with me. I am a father to five unique and talented human beings, and am grateful to be in an eclectic circle of friends and colleagues that spans across geography, culture, community and profession.

What is your position at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln? 

I serve as the director of the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program. Our success is generated by the commitment of our remarkable community of entrepreneurial students, staff, alumni and friends of the program. Our mission is to embolden people on the courageous pursuit of their purpose through the art and practice of entrepreneurship.  

What drew you to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln?

The opportunity to build a concept into a program and ultimately into an effective organization for the people of Nebraska and the region. Paul Engler’s gift was an exceptional investment and to be part of making good on his trust was an exciting opportunity. My wife and I chose Nebraska because we were drawn to the students here who exuded work ethic, commitment to pursuing a dynamic vision, a desire to create and build, and a high level of decency, kindness and partnership. I have a wonderful partner in my wife Laura and this opportunity was really a shared commitment – she has contributed so much to the success of the students in the Engler program by opening our home to students for celebrations, life conversations and building community.  We also wanted to live in a state where rural life and communities were valued.

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most?

Unique to this position has been the opportunity to work with students, alumni, entrepreneurs and leaders in a way that goes beyond the traditional classroom model. The Engler Program has a clear mission, a distinct culture and a community of wonderful people. Being a coach, advocate, instigator, sounding board and co-learner as people build towards their aspirations is a joyous experience. 

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

When I think about life experiences that have been fulfilling and sustainable – they are all the result of meaningful relationships. Having the honor of being part of the team of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends of UNL who have built the Engler Program has been a special and extraordinary experience. As I look back at my earliest teachers, 4-H leaders, coaches and mentors from childhood through university and the early years of my professional career, they helped provide the foundation upon which any success I have experienced was built.  My mom was very influential in helping me to understand that life is enriched by the depth and breadth of the people you encounter. She modeled her belief that real wealth was built by the strength of culture of your enterprise and community. 

What is something that most people don't know about you?

My first college scholarship was for the performing arts.  Clearly that didn’t pan out!

What is your life like outside of work?

Mostly dedicated to family – with three grown sons and twin 9-year-olds, every day is an adventure.

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