The relationship between agriculture and the youth in our communities is a symbiotic one — mutually beneficial, each helping the other to grow. How does that work out? Consider the following:
Benefit to Agriculture — The Future of Ag
Considering that each of our planet’s 7 billion-plus inhabitants requires food to eat and water to drink, saying that the world depends on agriculture is hardly an understatement. And considering the median age of farmers is nearly 60 years old, if agriculture is going to continue to benefit the residents of this globe, bringing young people into ag-related fields of study and career will be imperative.
Benefit to Youth — Practical, Hands-On Skill Development
In a competitive job market, the person with more skills and knowledge is at an advantage. Youth who participate in agriculture programs gain this type of experience, and in more ways than one. Not only are they learning practical trade skills related to agriculture, but also a number of so-called soft skills. Public speaking when showing to judges. Teamwork and collaboration from working together. Accountability, Responsibility, Organization, Respect…the list goes on.
Benefit to Agriculture — New Ideas
As the saying goes, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” While it’s true that some agriculturalists have embraced new technology and new ideas, such as managing their irrigation with an iPad or using a drone to check entire fields in minutes. Just imagine the types of innovations that the “digital native” generation will come up with. And considering some of the threats that the upcoming generation will face, such as the continued threat of citrus greening, the task of rebounding from COVID-19, and the looming specter of climate change, our industry will need their unique creativity and insights to move forward.
Benefit to Youth — Making a Difference
Many young people have a desire to know that what they do has a purpose – that’s why they ask teachers “when are we going to use this,” or announce that they’re “bored” as if it were a cardinal sin. But when a young person gets involved with agriculture, they gain a means of making an impact. Maybe they help plant a community garden to help feed people in need, or they work to discover a safe and sustainable means of purifying water. But once they have an idea they can ‘sink their teeth into,’ they will work with dedication, passion, and perseverance to see it through.
Better Together — Agriculture and Youth
These benefits only scratch the surface of the good that agriculture and youth do for one another. Recruiting young people into agriculture ensures that not only do they prosper, but everyone prospers along with them.