Kids Are the Future of Agriculture
Roots and wings are the most valuable gifts parents can give a child. These traits offer children a sense of belonging and a zest for making their own unique contribution to the world one day.
Will the children in your life find meaningful work that feeds their soul and makes them financially self-sufficient?
With early guidance, children can explore different career opportunities in ways that enrich their childhood and position them for a successful future. This is true of the agriculture industry, where, in the next 10-years, more than 75,000 jobs are expected to become available in Pennsylvania due to retiring workers and the creation of new STEM positions.
These are good jobs that can feed a family, while feeding the community, the nation and the world. Children who enjoy animals and the outdoors could become first-generation farmers, dairy herdsmen or a veterinarian.
The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has identified 28 occupations that will be most in demand by the agriculture and food industry over the next decade.
Normally, when we think of the agriculture and food industry, we think of farmers, but opportunities in agriculture go well beyond traditional farming and include forestry, wood working, food processing, landscaping, butchers, bakers and soil and water conservationists.
Do you know a child who is fascinated with trucks? There is a need for precision agriculture technicians to operate and repair tractors and other farm equipment. The need extends to diesel truck mechanics, industrial machinery mechanics and food batch makers to prepare industrial sized recipes in food factories.
Farming is part of a supply-and-distribution chain that extends to food processing, food distribution, and consumer consumption of food.
An ongoing conversation with children, starting as early as preschool, can help plant the seeds of career planning.
Preparing a meal with a child in the kitchen? It’s a teachable moment to talk about where the ingredients come from or talk about how a restaurant chef makes many meals at the same time.
On a hike with a child? Look at the trees together, explain where the different varieties of wood come from and tell how, when a tree is cut down, more trees are planted, making trees a renewable resource.
Or stand by a stream and talk about the importance of clean water and soil. Do some gardening together; visit a farm; introduce children to agriculture workers and learn about their jobs.
Agriculture is one of the most hands-on concepts to teach children because everything on their plate — such as an apple, peanut butter and a glass of milk — is connected to agriculture.
The more time young people spend pondering careers, the more likely they will have a direction by the time they are in high school when they need to start making decisions about higher education.
Ultimately, children grow into adults who will find their own path.
But with guidance from parents and caregivers, the next generation will come to appreciate how food gets to their table, and they will consider a rewarding career in agriculture.