Austin Etcheson says hard work has paid off for him
JASPER, MO. – Austin Etcheson grew up in Jasper, Mo., with his parents Joe and Penny Etcheson. Early on, he began helping his uncle Louis Etcheson with cattle chores and his dad with construction. He soon understood how to care for cattle and had a good grasp on his dad’s business, Etcheson Construction. His grandpa had once farmed but sold his ground in the 1970s and Austin said he has always wanted to get into farming.
About four years ago, Austin started working for Russell Dintaman, a local farmer. His dad Joe knew Russell and it provided a great opportunity for him to get involved in farming.
“I was the only one at the time working for him and I helped pick up rocks, row crop, take soil samples, work ground, spray and work on tractors and equipment,” Austin said.
During the school year, Austin, worked for about three hours every evening. After about a year, he started to help plant and Russell started a pivot irrigation business called Steele Rain Irrigation. Austin helped put together pivots and the first summer they built three pivots in Laclede County, Mo., driving from Jasper every day.
“Whenever we first started putting pivots together, he hired more people. We went from just me to six other guys. I managed the other help and kept everyone on track. The pivots are sent on a semi-trailer bundled up. We put them together and make sure they run properly. We can also troubleshoot them to find out what is wrong and fix it. I still help him on the farm as well. He can now give me an idea of what we need to get done such as spraying or planting, and I can just go out and take care of it. During the summer, especially when we are building pivots and going really hard, 70 or 80 hours a week is not outrageous.
“I would advise young people to work hard. sometimes it’s not going to be fun, but you just have to do it anyways. If you work hard, you’ll be rewarded.”
— Russell Dintaman
“Once I worked for Russell long enough, I was able to get myself into a place where I could rent 80 acres of pasture and buy some cows,” he said.
Austin currently has 25 black Angus cows of his own he really enjoys. He still occasionally helps his dad with dirt work, building terraces and waterways and putting in drain tile for other farmers.
“Some jobs are better than others, but I enjoy all of it,” he said.
Austin also bales hay for local farmers. He already had a mower, but recently has bought his own tractor and baler.
Austin was his FFA chapter’s vice president, and the organization is a part of his family’s legacy as well.
“My dad and two sisters were in FFA and I wanted to be in it. I came into FFA as a freshman and did horse judging the first year, making it to state. From then on, I really enjoyed it. Last year, I won a proficiency in ag service with repair and maintenance. Our agronomy team made it to state, placing fourth. I have learned a lot from FFA and being an officer has helped me on the job manage my team of guys.”
Austin also received his State FFA Degree this year and won the state Star Placement Award at the State FFA Convention in Sedalia, Mo., for his work with Steele Rain Irrigation and will go through a few more interviews and represent Missouri at nationals.
“I would advise young people to work hard. Sometimes it’s not going to be fun, but you just have to do it anyways,” Russell said. “If you work hard, you’ll be rewarded. I got started working with my dad and he has always inspired me. I helped him when I was younger, and he helped me get the job with Russell. He said he didn’t care what I did as long as I was working and enjoyed it most of the time.”
Austin is attending Crowder College this fall for ag business, with an emphasis in agronomy. He would then like transfer to Missouri State University to obtain a bachelor’s degree in agronomy with hopes of finding a job thereafter and continuing to expand his own farm.