Ernest Dixon III defies odds through agriculture

Ernest Dixon III, a senior agribusiness management major, has significant experience in agriculture, coming from a family background of individuals who have operated a farm for 13 years. Through these experiences, Dixon has persevered with an auditory processing disorder. 

"I graduated in the top 15 percent of my class for someone that wasn't supposed to go past the 10th grade," he said. "I have been diagnosed with auditory processing disorder since the third grade, and everyone told my mother and me that at some point, I won't be able to finish because my brain doesn't work like everyone else's brain around me." 

Dixon was told that he wouldn't have a shot at college. 

"I was told that I wouldn't be able to go to college nor get accepted into any schools," said Dixon. "I applied to 16 schools and was accepted to all but one due to my counselor not finishing one part on her end."

It took Ernest additional time to complete assignments, but he was up for the task despite his challenges and persisted. 

"I have to spend more time with my work than anyone else just to stay caught up. I received the Man of the Year award. This was the first and last award ever given because of everything I did in high school," said Dixon. 

Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) affects the ability to understand speech. Dixon has defied the odds of struggling with the disorder through continuous hard work and preparation. 

"If you ask anyone on campus, Ernest Dixon III is in the library if you need him, and that's where he will be for most of the day. I spend most of my time in the library to catch up with work to feel comfortable knowing what's going to happen in the next class. When I spend more time on my work, I can show what I know because of the four to five hours I spent studying before each class."

Dixon's grandfather received his degree in agriculture from Alcorn and began working in different agriculture sectors. Due to Dixon being exposed to agriculture his whole life, he feels he has to help others get the experience and exposure they need to thrive in the agriculture world today. 

The Atlanta native has partnered with the Georgia Agribusiness Council, Cargill, and Metro Atlanta Urban Farm to create the Agriculture Job Tour. Dixon desires to provide "hands-on" assistance to help students evolve in agriculture. He obtained an internship with Cargill last summer in Reserve, Louisiana, and had the opportunity to connect with everyone within the company during his training. 

"The exposure I gained from Metro Atlanta Urban Farm helped with my experience at Cargill. Networking with many Cargill employees and speaking about my ideas of helping students enhanced my experience. I was done with my internship, and the next few days, we sat down and discussed how we could bring the Agriculture Job Tour to life."

Because Cargill partnered with the Georgia Agribusiness Council to help with Dixon's idea for the "Agriculture Job Tour," it has been essential for his journey. The Agriculture Job Tour offers one-on-one guidance with students using different employers at every stop. In addition, the tour provides potential job opportunities, internships, and mentorship to help students proceed in the direction they want to go within the agricultural sector. They also collaborate with schools for students who are thinking about furthering their education.

The job tour has assisted Dixon with aiding students interested in the field of Agriculture.

"This was a great experience for me to help the next generation of future Agriculturists thrive in whichever direction they would like to go in," he said. "I always want to help someone with dreams or ideas they wish to accomplish, and the Job Tour allows me to do so."

Dixon's goal for the Agriculture Job Tour is to provide students with one-on-one time for different agricultural sectors to figure out what they really want to do in the agricultural world. While working at Metro Atlanta Urban Farm, students experience various techniques. The farm has many opportunities such as accounting, sales, marketing, logistics, community leading, teaching, and many more.

"When students are trying to apply for an internship or job, they read a description about the opportunity and are not too sure if that's something they would like to do or not," said Dixon. "The Agriculture Job Tour provides a chance for students to receive more information than the description by going to these particular agriculture sectors and experiencing the opportunity to ultimately make a decision. I know there are a lot of missed opportunities due to students not knowing what the opportunity holds and not having all the information to help them make a decision."

Dixon's goal with the Job tour is to get students job-ready. 

"The Agriculture Job Tour can get a group of students and work from start to finish to be ready for their possible internships or jobs," Dixon said. "It offers help with resume building, networking, speaking to employers, and being comfortable in different settings with people you meet for the first time. This is ideally before the tour starts to prepare the students." 

His journey toward earning his degree in agriculture has impacted him significantly. Although many obstacles have tried to hinder Dixon throughout his life, he has proven that he can overcome any challenges that he is presented with. 

"It feels great to accomplish what I started. I can go back to all the schools that I attended and show my degree to the people who told me that I wasn't going to be able to get one due to my disorder," said Dixon. "This degree will also change my life forever and the next generation. My degree will help show that anyone with a disorder or even Auditory Processing Disorder can do anything they put their mind to. My grandparents will graduate with me this upcoming semester, and this will be their 50th anniversary Golden Year. I can't wait to celebrate it with them."

Due to a successful internship with Cargill in 2021, Dixon will begin his career at the company this summer following graduation. 

"It really feels good because I don't have to worry about what I will do next," Dixon said. I know that I have a job after graduation, which helps me focus on finishing off my last semester strong."