Remember the kids

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The Youth in Agriculture issue is one of my favorite editions of Ozarks Farm & Neighbor. I love talking to young people about their experiences in agriculture and what they hope to achieve in the industry. It’s great to hear the excitement in their voice, see the smile on their face, and the twinkle in their eye. They are optimistic about what the future holds for them. 

We hear so many negative comments about young people these days that we tend to forget about the ones setting goals and their drive to succeed. 

My hometown FFA chapter recently held a labor auction, where the highest bidder could “win” an FFA member for a day to do a few chores. We had several projects I wanted to get done, so I bid on a couple of young men to help. When the workday arrived, the duo showed up ready to work – and work they did. Projects that would have taken me forever to do were completed in no time. It helps when there are two young people to do them instead of just Bill and I. They stacked wood, cut limbs, piled brush and even moved furniture out of my dining room and into the garage so we could paint. They were slated to be at the house for a six-hour day but were done much sooner. Since we had a little extra time in the day, Bill and I talked to the young men about what they wanted to do in the future. There was talk of going into the military right after graduation, plans to become a diesel mechanic and taking classes to become a welder. The young men weren’t exactly sure what they were doing in the future, but even after our short day together, I am sure they will do well in whatever they decide. 

As the boys were leaving, they told us to let them know if we needed any help in the future. I was very impressed with the duo, and they are welcome back anytime; plus I will need help getting those cabinets back into my dining room once the painting is done. 

Before you say, “that’s because they were farm kids,” they weren’t. One has always lived in town but loves the outdoors, and the other lives in the country but doesn’t consider himself a farmer. Both young men have after-school and weekend jobs and are active in school. They take ag classes because the curriculum offers something they were interested in, they found they enjoy what FFA offers, and they have learned about the importance of agriculture. They also enjoyed learning more about animals and where their food comes from, as well as the mechanical side.

Organizations like FFA and 4-H teach young people more than just agriculture. These organizations develop leadership, community involvement, life skills, and much, much more. Why wouldn’t a parent want their children involved with such organizations? 

Today, more than ever, it’s critical to support your local youth organizations or groups, be it FFA or 4-H, Scouts or Campfire, a local church youth group, Civil Air Patrol, Key Club, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Little League or Mighty Mights. It’s not just monetary donations that are needed; a little time is worth more than you may realize. 

Remember, the young people you encourage today will be the leaders who will change the world tomorrow.

Julie Turner-Crawford is a native of Dallas County, Mo., where she grew up on her family’s farm. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Julie, call 1-866-532-1960 or by email at [email protected]

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