Larna Schnitker can’t help but smile. Sure, she just spent half a day rounding up cattle that somehow found their way into the wrong pasture, forcing her to miss lunch completely. Plus she’s trying keep life at home, in Middletown, Mo., organized as she prepares for an important business trip.
As a business owner, Schnitker said she knows that some days are going to be easier than others. Those day-to-day stresses are easily forgotten, she admitted, because she gets to spend each day helping farmers reach their goals through Amp’d Up Ag. Schnitker, who graduated with an agribusiness management degree from the University of Missouri in May, created the company in 2020, alongside her boyfriend, Michael Fidler (senior agriculture major), and her sister, Lucy (senior agribusiness management major).
“I love everything we do through Amp’d Up Ag,” Schnitker said. “The main reason I enjoy our work so much is because we get to help people amplify their farms. Growing up on a farm, I understand what it’s like to put blood, sweat and tears into your work. I love hearing farmer stories and brainstorming how we can play a role in making their operation successful. It’s really special to hear from them about how we played a role in making their dreams come true.”
Schnitker describes Amp’d Up Ag as a bit of a hybrid company. They offer consulting services for a variety of farming challenges, with a focus on helping farmers achieve higher yields while lowering their input costs. To go along with consulting, Amp’d Up Ag also offers custom spraying and plant tissue testing services. They also play an active role on the Schnitker family farm.
“We spend a lot of time learning about our clients’ operations to gain an understanding of the best way we can help them succeed,” Schnitker said. “That’s our main goal at all times – we want to support other farmers. We help them find that limiting factor that we can step in and help them solve.”
Schnitker said that they have a great group of local clients – but have also expanded their company to producers in other states.
“We find a lot of folks through fair booths, and, in general, we also spend a lot of time on the phone,” Schnitker said. “We’ve recently had some success on social media, too. We’ve added customers in Texas and Georgia because of TikTok. It’s exciting for me to connect in all of these different ways.
“We’re very grateful to have some awesome mentors who really pushed us to broaden our business. They talked us through how important it is to have that home base and encouraged us to also look outside of that clientele.”
Schnitker’s entrepreneurial spirit began when she was 8 years old. She began by selling her own jewelry, wreaths and craft projects at the Missouri State Fair through 4-H. Later, she bottle-fed calves and showed them at the county fair, eventually selling them.
“I guess being an entrepreneur has always been engrained in me,” Schnitker said. “I really love how much freedom I have. The only red tape is myself.”
Schnitker chose the University of Missouri to continue her education because of its close proximity to Middletown, as her hometown is less than 70 miles from the MU campus. She was originally going to study animal sciences, but her grandfather encouraged her to lean toward agribusiness management.
“I love genetics, and I was really interested in pursuing an animal sciences degree,” Schnitker said. “My grandpa sat me down, though, and explained the importance of having a business degree so that I would be ready to run the farm when the time came. I’m so glad that I took his advice to switch to agribusiness management. I learned so much and have applied that to what I do each day.”
Schnitker and Fidler, who also hails from Middletown, were able to do their coursework at MU while traveling back home to work on the Schnitker family farm. They were also able to get Amp’d Up Ag up and running while on the Mizzou campus.
Schnitker and Fidler have been dating for six years. They met while in high school after Schnitker’s father, Herb, purchased Fidler’s services during their FFA chapter’s labor auction. The auction serves as a fundraiser for the chapter.
“When he first came out to our farm, he didn’t talk to me for like three hours,” Schnitker said. “I’m pretty sure he thought I was weird. Eventually, we started talking and then dating. It’s been a blast to go through this together. We’ve learned the importance of good communication, and I just love the opportunities we have to work together on something we’re both passionate about.”
Schnitker added that her sister Lucy was also vital to getting Amp’d Up Ag off the ground.
“She really helped us get going from a social and communication standpoint,” Schnitker said. “I’m so grateful for what she was able to do. We definitely wouldn’t be as far along without her. And while she’s focused on finishing her degree at the moment, the door is always open if she’s interested in coming back to work with Michael and myself.”
Schnitker said that being an entrepreneur obviously isn’t for everyone. It’s been a rewarding experience for her – and something that she is proud to have helped build.
“I had an internship after my freshman year, and I spent most of my time in a cubicle,” Schnitker said. “I soon realized that I wasn’t cut out for that type of work. I wanted to be on the farm. And while I love being able to farm myself, it makes me so happy to help others as well. I’m excited to see how we can continue to amplify farms across the country.”