“Agriculture is important to everyone whether we are a farmer or not,” said Diane Olson, promotion and education director for the Missouri Farm Bureau. “We all eat food, wear clothing, drive vehicles, live in houses, enjoy entertainment, utilize cosmetics, and etc. – all of which are sourced from agricultural products. The excitement displayed by young agricultural leaders is important to the future for them as individuals and the rest of the world as we face providing food and fiber for a growing world population.”
The Missouri Farm Bureau (MFB) offers many opportunities for youth in the state, including partnering and support programs with 4-H and FFA, in addition to various scholarships.
“Participants are provided unique leadership opportunities and insights into challenges facing agriculture and potential career options,” Olson said.
One of these opportunities is Youth Leadership Day, this event exposes students to the workings of state government and the importance of connecting with their respective members of the General Assembly to share their concerns and gain insight into effectively lobbying for a cause.
The MFB also provides an Ambassador Program, Collegiate Farm Bureau organizations at many state universities and colleges, Young Farmers and Ranchers Program, and the Agriculture in the Classroom program that helps educators and students connect to the importance of agriculture through pre-service and in-service workshops, volunteer training, resource development and delivery.
The MFB Foundation for Agriculture offers mini-grants to teachers allowing them to purchase accurate agricultural materials and utilize them in their classroom.
Through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency, loans are available to qualified rural youth to establish and operate income-producing projects in connection with 4-H Clubs, FFA and other agricultural groups. These projects must be planned and operated with the help of the organization’s advisor, produce sufficient income to repay the loan and provide the youth with practical business and educational experience.
Dan Gieseke, Missouri farm loan program chief, U.S. Department of Agriculture, said that the youth learn to keep records of their operation and manage their finances. “The loan itself offers the youth the opportunity to do a project that their family in many cases cannot afford to fund.”
Often times, the result of the loan and hard work of the youth appear at livestock contests and county fairs, and even the state fair. “Also, we have had several Youth Loan borrowers use the funds as a start for their own operations as adults,” Gieseke said. “Many times these are cattle operations that continue to grow with the saving of heifers. Many of these folks have received loans from our other loan programs as adults.”
According to Gieseke, considerations that parents should account for when making decisions about the loan program for their children include; is the youth ready for the responsibility required? Will the parents commit to ensure that the experience is a positive one (i.e. the loan gets re-paid)?
Missouri’s State Department of Agriculture has summer internship opportunities for college students interested in pursuing careers in agriculture, and the 2014 Missouri Governor’s Conference on Agriculture will include opportunities for youth involvement.


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