The Importance of Youth in Agriculture
One of the greatest privileges of being a Wyoming State FFA officer is the opportunity to travel around the state and make an impact in the lives of many FFA members.
In June, we had the amazing opportunity to do just that at Wyoming FFA Leadership Camp. It’s clear to see how camp makes a difference in the lives of students, as many of them love the experience and come back multiple times. Seeing the change that FFA camp makes in the lives of students is nothing short of incredible. Many of them show up shy but leave as strong, confident leaders.
This year happened to be very special as it was the 40th anniversary of camp. FFA camp has helped countless FFA members find themselves as leaders and individuals, so in honor of the 40th, the camp theme was “The Right Direction.” Now, one of the many questions asked at camp was, what is the right direction for agriculture? It’s clear to see that, after just one week of camp, FFA members who attended are headed in the right direction, but what can the agricultural community do as a whole to ensure that the ag industry is headed in the right direction?
Agricultural production is very important for our nation, as well as our state. It is the nation’s single largest employer, with over 23 million jobs involved in some facet of American agriculture. There are over 2 million farms across the United States making up over 900 million acres. Wyoming ranks 11th in the nation in total land used in agriculture and first for average size of farms and ranches, with 30.4 million acres of land and 11,700 farms and ranches across the state. It is clear that agriculture is a very integral part of our nation and makes up much of our economy. However, what does the future hold in store for us? With a world population that is growing exponentially, it is estimated that we will need to produce 70 percent more food to keep up with the growing demand. Feeding the world will definitely be a daunting task, with the world population projected to swell to over 9 billion people in the next 30 years, which brings the question, what is the right direction for Agriculture?
For starters, there really is no one right direction for agriculture. Agriculture has shifted and evolved for many years, and there is really no right way of doing things. Instead, it’s the diversity within agriculture that makes it so unique and special. Without diversity in our crops, livestock and ways of thinking, the agricultural industry would not be able to succeed. With all of this diversity, it is therefore difficult to determine what the right direction for agriculture is.
With every direction, though, there is always a place to start, and I believe the best place to start begins today with the things we do. First and foremost, it begins with advocating for our industry and everything we value and believe. Public perception of our industry is becoming a more pressing issue, and the best thing we can do is inform the public about what we do and the things we stand for. Perhaps the most important place to start is with our youth.
After attending FFA camp, we, as state officers, got to experience firsthand the great members that FFA has to offer. We got to see their passion and devotion to a lifestyle and industry that many of them have grown up in and will continue to be actively involved in.
Our youth are so important because they are our future. They are the ones who will grow up to work in the ag industry and advocate for all of its noble causes. They will become farmers, ranchers, business leaders and law makers. Organizations such as FFA and 4-H are vital to the future of the agricultural industry, and it all begins right now.
The best thing that we can offer to our youth is support from producers, business leaders, legislatures and teachers. With lots of support and encouragement, I believe that America’s youth will grow up to lead agriculture in the right direction which will allow it to prosper for many years to come.
Kersh is originally from Cheyenne and will serve as a Wyoming State FFA officer until April of 2018.