On Campus: Engler

Through the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program, students engage in entrepreneurship the old-fashioned way: they just start doing it. Providing experiential, community-based learning along the way, the program helps students build their own enterprises from the ground up. Agricultural economics major Maria Harthoon talks about how Engler has helped her build something important to her.

Maria smiles for a photo in her Engler shirt

How would you explain Engler to someone outside the IANR community?

The Engler Program is an entrepreneurship program dedicated to building people, businesses, and communities through purpose-driven and experiential entrepreneurship.

Talk about why you decided to apply to Engler.

The Engler Program has open doors, anyone wanting to hold a growth, learner, and owner’s mindset has a place here. I joined to find a place where I could develop myself and my community, and find like-minded individuals who spurred me on in my faith in Jesus, aspirations to build and run my own life, and encourage me to see my ideas to fruition in something meaningful.

What is your favorite part about Engler?

My favorite part of the Engler Program is how much connection there is between students, staff, and alumni. Students are taken seriously as people who can impact our community and state. Staff bring themselves to where each student is individually and seek to build up that person, rather than lecture to them. Alumni stay connected in the program, knowing you never graduate from it. We are all partners trying to make a lasting impact on our state and the Midwest.

What is your entrepreneurial idea? How did you come up with the idea and how has the Engler community supported you through the entrepreneurial experience?

My current endeavors include agricultural photography. This includes custom stock photography for small farms/ranches/businesses to use for their branding, websites, social media, and for sentimental purposes. I also contract marketing labor for marketing in search engine optimization, website management, and social media research. This idea came from my heart for agricultural and rural people, especially in the greater Nebraska area. Being raised on a farm/ranch in Brown County, NE, I gained a heart for these people and the communities I was raised in. The Engler Program really helped me cut out the excess and hone in on what mattered to me. Every idea I have thrown at them has always been met with optimism. I tried a lot of things that did not stick, but they let me figure that out through experience. They never told me no, they encouraged me to find out for myself what was going to work for me. For that, I am continually grateful.

Maria takes a photo

How will your involvement in Engler help you in the future?

This program has helped me with entrepreneurial experience and skill-building, but mostly it has allowed me to meet some of God’s most humble, encouraging, and nose to the grindstone people. I have met loyal friends, mentors, and innovators. Knowing these people is what will help me in the future. I have support, encouragement, ideas, partners, and community with the people I have had the honor of walking alongside within the Engler Program.

What or who inspires/motivates you?

The assurance that, by grace alone, Jesus Christ has saved me is my salvation and ultimately all the inspiration I will ever need. The ability to work and serve for the Lord’s will, through the Holy Spirit, is a blessed gift.

Who has impacted your time at Nebraska?

My mentor and professor in the Engler Program, Dave Lambe, has been instrumental in my journey here at Nebraska. Ongoing since my sophomore year, Dave has been a coach, friend, and mentor throughout these shaping years. He is a listener, knows how to turn idea into action, and really cares about his people. Dave challenges me to try experiences that foster my growth and to pursue worthy goals.

What is one piece of advice you would give an incoming Engler student?

Find people that you can learn from.

Ask lots of questions, and think deeply about what it is you were made to pursue.

Back up the thinking with action — with lots and lots of trial & error.

What is something you have learned that will stick with you after you graduate?

My hands were made to work, my hands were made to serve. Truly none of this is about me, only what I can do for God’s kingdom and His people.

What do you hope to do after you graduate?

My goal is to help rural and agricultural people. Right now, that looks like agricultural marketing. I hope to return to rural Nebraska and bring value from the experiences I have had in my college years. I hope to stay involved with the family operation and continue in production agriculture. I hope to make disciples of all nations. Wherever I end up after I graduate, I aim to bring and create value for my family, community, and state.

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University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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