Psst! A Insider's Secret For Young People

Nor' east Thinkin'

Agriculture is a huge, golden field with bountiful career opportunities that may start beyond the farm gate.

Published on: October 22, 2013

 You hear so much about farmers getting older and no one wanting to farm anymore. Well, the getting older part may be true, but the rest is a myth!

Young people are being attracted to agriculture in increasing numbers. And farming isn't the only ag game in town.

Last week during the World Food Prize convo in Iowa, hundreds of bright, young people came from all over the country to learn about agriculture's exciting future. And back home, the Future Farmers Club at Spring Grove, Pa., held a Drive Your Tractor to School Day. While only five tractors rolled into the high school parking lot that morning, the real news story was about the Future Farmers Club.

OUTSTANDING IN HER FIELD: Yes, its a cliché, but an accurate statement about Kait Rimol, who is cultivating her skills for an ag career.
OUTSTANDING IN HER FIELD: Yes, it's a cliché, but an accurate statement about Kait Rimol, who is cultivating her skills for an ag career.

Most club members didn't have a tractor. Many weren't even farm kids. But since being formed in 2011, this student-driven group has grown to 35 members who live or work on farms, or want to learn more about agriculture. And this school doesn't even have an FFA chapter.

Club President Doug Sprintle, a high school senior, doesn't live on a farm. But he started the club in his freshman year because of his passion for agriculture. He says the club keeps growing – just like the crops on their mini-farm planted on school district land.

These young people are a good step ahead of most. They foresee agriculture's potential – even that beyond the farm.

Agriculture: A 'hot' career opportunity

While employment in most other industries suffered through the Great Recession, agriculture was booming – and still is – with college internships and fulltime career positions. Ag-related companies seeking bright, young talent are on the rise. And enrollment in ag colleges across the country is rising or at least holding steady.

Kait Rimol, featured in October's issue, is a fine example of the talent coming into agriculture. The Penn State plant sciences junior from Londonderry, N.H., interned with Pioneer/DuPont this summer. That experience puts her on the inside track for an ag career after graduation.

As Barb Christ, interim dean of Penn State's College of Ag Sciences, recently noted: "At least 50% of last spring's ag college graduates had jobs by graduation day. There are all sorts of job opportunities for ag graduates – not just on farms."

That explains why the College of Ag Sciences also has the most students transferring in from other PSU colleges. Even so, Christ says, "We need to do a lot more selling to parents of agriculture's opportunities. And we need to get to the high schools."

Next week, I'll tell you about the hottest ag careers for the coming decade, and how the next generation of agriculture can prep for them.