Our youth are our future. While this may seem like a worn out statement, it still rings true, especially in the agricultural industry. The industry is evolving rapidly and it is today’s students who will be tomorrow’s producers. Opportunities abound both on and off the farm, in rural areas and in the big cities. This past week I had the chance to interact with our local youth on multiple occasions.
The first interaction was with a freshman college student at our local community college. As part of her preparations for the Missouri Postsecondary Agricultural Student Organization competition this fall, she had to interview someone in her field of interest, agricultural business. While answering the standard questions (what were my job duties, what did I like or not like, what were the requirements to get to my position, etc.), I tried to point out that she is in an enviable position as a student today. She will have opportunities now to travel, intern in various positions, attend state and national conferences where she can meet and quiz professionals in all fields, gain service experience through her local college agricultural club, and through her studies, keep on top of the trends in her chosen field.
The second opportunity came through the first Newton County Agribusiness Academy put on by the Neosho Mo., Area Chamber of Commerce. There were several students from local high schools who participated, visiting local businesses that were involved in agricultural either directly or indirectly. A couple of the local businesses the students visited were not agricultural in nature, but the business owners themselves were involved in agriculture in the personal lives. Other businesses were agricultural, but not in the typical sense, such as the local lumber mill.
The students had the opportunity to visit with members of the agricultural community at a panel discussion during lunch at Crowder College. The panel itself was a reflection of the dying breed of the full-time farmer, as only one of the five panelists was employed full time on the farm. The intent of the panel was to provide the students a chance to interview successful members of the business community who were also involved in agricultural on a daily basis, to see how they got where they were, and what advice they might have for the students as they transition to college. A common theme among the panelists was hard work, a willingness to start small, humility and a willingness to listen and learn from others were what got those panelists where they are today.
Our students are our future. They have abundant opportunities before them to excel in their chosen fields, whether on or off the farm, or both! While it is up to past generations to do our best to encourage them to take advantage of those opportunities, ultimately it is up to them, the students, to seize the day and make their dreams come true.


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