meet farmer and businessman Ray Aubin '09

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Founder of Attleboro Farms and current general manager of the 500 acre Confreda Greenhouses and Farms in Hope, RI, UMass Amherst UWW graduate Ray Aubin shares his thirty year journey to complete his college degree. In 2004, Ray graduated from UMass Amherst UWW with a concentration in Agribusiness, and went on to earn his MBA from Fitchburg State College. 

Why did you choose UMass Amherst UWW to complete your degree?
I attended the UMass Amherst Stockbridge School of Agriculture in the early 70’s and was one semester away from graduating when I lost both parents. With several younger siblings at home, I had to withdraw and work to support my younger brothers. I founded a farm/greenhouse operation in 1975 and in 2001, returned to school to complete my studies. What better place to finish but at the place I started? With a very challenging seasonal schedule, UMass Amherst UWW was the perfect fit. 

What was the best part about being a UWW student for you?
I enjoyed being back on campus and the interaction and sharing of ideas and experiences with other students and instructors. The experience was both refreshing and stimulating.

What was your favorite class at UMass Amherst?
Absolutely it was Group Dynamics with Shekhar Regmi.

What was the best part of writing a portfolio to earn credit for experience for you?
I found the entire process of writing, reminiscing, revising and learning how to develop the story to be very satisfying. The up and down process of the portfolio process forced me (faculty member Victoria Dowling forced me :)  to reflect and describe many years of experience and what I learned from those experiences. I especially enjoyed the interaction with my fellow students and was humbled by all the different circumstances that were endured. Their stories were very compelling and led them in most cases to further their educations and seek a degree through UMass Amherst UWW.

Where did you take your classes? 
Online and in the classroom. Gen Eds were completed at Bridgewater State, Bristol Community College and Stonehill College.  

How did you balance work and school?  
Balancing work and study was always a challenge especially in a family operated seasonal business. Spring, Fall and Winter were very busy and I can remember the exams falling around Mother’s Day as the spring semester was about to end with a barrage of finals during one of the busiest times of the year.

What advice do you have for other adults finishing their degrees? 
My advice to undergraduates completing their degrees would be to stay focused and be passionate about the end game.  If they really want to “walk” during commencement, it is imperative to stay the course and keep a keen eye on the prize. Commit to doing the work. Make time to study and stay organized so that the objectives and the end goal are reached in a reasonable period of time. Set that date on the outset of taking on this responsibility and when you complete it, it’s all worth the time, effort and the feeling of great satisfaction.

Tell us about your work?
As General Manager at Confreda Greenhouses and Farms I am responsible for the operations, finance, HR and marketing for five businesses owned by the Confreda family. We operate the largest vegetable farm in RI (about 500 acres, a retail farmer’s market, a retail garden center, wholesale greenhouses, our haunted attraction Scary Acres, and The MAiZE at Confreda Farms.

What are your future plans professionally and personally?
RETIREMENT AGAIN (He "retired" from running the family business, Attleboro Farms, in 2009).  I might do a little teaching as an adjunct.

Tell readers something about yourself that they wouldn’t guess about you.
I spent 25 years in fund development/marketing for the third largest YMCA in Massachusetts and I am blessed with the greatest wife/partner/family in the world. I've been married for 37 years and have 3 children and 2 grandchildren.