Aaron Williams grew up with a love of the outdoors, wildlife and animals on his family farm in southwest Iowa. Aaron started raising his own pigs with support from his father at a young age. By the time he graduated high school, Aaron had raised over 150 pigs and aspired to become a sixth-generation farmer. He continued his education, earning a degree in agricultural business before returning home to the Williams Family Farm. Today, Aaron is fulfilling his dream as a sixth-generation farmer and vice-president of his local county Farm Bureau. Aaron is making a living doing what he loves raising farrow-to-finish hogs and crops.
Q: How has growing up on a farm influenced your life?
A: There is no doubt that I am the way I am today because I grew up on a farm. I learned many skills from both of my parents – hard work, honesty, integrity and perseverance. Growing up on a farm allowed me to have my career here as a farmer. If I had not grown up on a family farm, I would not be farming with the capital and land base that is needed to make a living. It is too hard to get started today without the foundation of a family farm and land.
Q: How did earning the Niman Ranch Next Generation Foundation Scholarship help you achieve your goals?
A: As you well know, college is very expensive. The help from the Niman Ranch Scholarship Foundation was extremely beneficial by allowing me to take out fewer student loans. I am grateful that Niman Ranch has such great partners that want to see the youth of today continue to grow with advanced education. Donors are bringing young people back to the farm and supporting rural communities.
Q: What inspired you to return to the farm?
The first thing that inspired me was that I was given the opportunity to take over the family farm and continue our legacy of growing pigs here for Niman Ranch. I believe if you are young and want to get into agriculture it has to be through livestock. It requires more labor but far less capital than crop farming. Niman Ranch has been a great partner for me and allowed me to grow my business and create a great living for myself.
Q: What achievement in life are you most proud of?
A: I think my greatest achievement is something that I am still working on. I was given the opportunity from my father and grandfather to take over the family business. I hope that I can make them proud and grow our business so that someday I can pass it on to one of my kids.
Q: Why is receiving scholarship assistance important to you and other students?
A: It means a lot that businesses supporting the quality products that we raise are willing to assist young individuals to help us get a better education and opportunities for our lives. And it means a lot that Niman Ranch, who has given us a chance and livelihood as young farmers, puts programs, such as their Young Farmer 2.0, in place to help us with our education.