Chris Laughton

As a nontraditional student and a self-proclaimed reinvented person, Chris Laughton brings much agricultural work and life experience to the graduate program in Agricultural and Resource Economics (ARE). His current employer, Farm Credit East (FCE) in Enfield, invests in his education to help him accomplish his plan. Here is what he said in an interview.

Where did you receive your degrees? I got a bachelor’s degree (with honors) from Cornell University in horticulture. My MBA is from the University of Massachusetts.

Why did you decide to go to graduate school? What made you choose ARE? In my job, I work in economics with an agricultural emphasis. It made me realize that I need more in-depth knowledge than my MBA gave me.

UConn’s Department of Agricultural and Resources Economics (ARE) has high quality academics. In addition, being part of a graduate program in Storrs allows me to stay in my job and home.

Who is your advisor? Rigoberto Lopez

Tell us about your program so far. I started in January 2017 with one class. I would call myself a non-traditional student because I also work full-time.

What is your work experience? I worked in my family’s greenhouse/nursery business for several years before I joined FCE six years ago. FCE offers loans and financial services to those involved in agriculture in the Northeast.

As the director of knowledge exchange at FCE, I offer training and education, which includes webinars and live events

Name one aspect of your work that you like. I like working with people in the region’s diverse agricultural communities. There are many opportunities for them, but they face some challenges.

For example, current agriculture is technological, and it requires those working in the field to be smarter and work harder. The wholesale prices that farmers receive are low compared to production costs, and the margin of error is slimmer than it used to be.

In your opinion, what is your greatest accomplishment so far? I was able to reinvent myself. After my family sold the nursery, I went back to school to get my MBA and subsequently got a job at FCE. Now, I am in the graduate program in ARE. I am happy with where I ended up.

When do you expect to get your master’s degree? It might take two or three years because, with working, I have to do it slowly.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you? I am impressed with the professors’ in-depth knowledge and commitment to teaching here.

Coming to class as an older student is an adjustment, but the professors make me feel welcome. In addition, I can share some of my work and life experiences to show how the theoretical concepts we are learning in class apply to real-life situations.

By Patsy Evans