Good afternoon all!  My name is Jesse Matt - I am a forestry and global resource systems student at Iowa State University, with an emphasis in Spanish (also a new member of the silvopasture forum).  For the past three years, I have lived and breathed agroforestry.  Given my education in forestry and my heritage as a black angus livestock producer, silvopasture feels like a silver bullet for me.  I've been browsing silvopasture stories and research articles from all over the world, learning as much as I can and trying to incorporate what I've learned on my family farm back in northeast Iowa.  I really want to make a career out of it - not just on my farm, but all over the world -  anywhere I can.  Silvopasture sounds like an incredible way to improve soil health and make agriculture more sustainable. 
I was surprised to find a community dedicated to the practice of silvopasture.  It's heartening to know that there are other people so crazy about this.  Many of you have your own farming operations and are able to design systems on your own land with your own livestock.  What sort of skills, disciplines, and traits do you find most valuable as you implement silvopasture? 
I find myself in a very difficult position.  Coming from a farm family, I already have rowcrop, pasture, forest, and livestock to experiment with - but I am also an inexperienced college student - an impractical dreamer.  If I have an idea for our farm, it needs to be economically viable and physically possible. Even though I am interested in silvopasture because of ecological principles and environmental ethics, at the end of the day a family farm is a business and needs to make money.   In the future I would like to apply the principles on my family farm, but until then I am willing to learn anywhere, inside or outside of school.
Thank you for your time and consideration,

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Jesse,

All silvopasturing practitioners are graziers and thus have or are rapidly developing grazing skills.  One observed weakness in this group are the tree-management skills.  Some of this lack of knowledge on the silvicultural side of silvopasturing can be overcome by working with consulting foresters - though it's not always easy to find these professionals, much less enlist their help for small or non-typical projects.  

While continuing your studies at Iowa State, I recommend pursuing any available forestry coursework.  The other key area of silvopasturing in which I think we could all use some more education is economics.  Too often I see farmers do things because of the personal appeal vs. a careful analysis of the benefits.  Any coursework in ag/forest economics would be time well spent. 

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