This week, during National Agriculture Week, we celebrate food, fiber, fuel, and the individuals who grow and produce it. When we think of agriculture, tractors, livestock, crops, food, barns, and soil are among the images that pop into our heads. We think of farmers and the many hours they put into growing and producing food and products. However, agriculture goes beyond food, fiber, and fuel. There is so much more meaning behind the images of cows, plows, and sows. For youth involved in agriculture, it means so much more.
Agriculture grows more than corn and livestock, it grows youth. For so many individuals, agriculture developed them into the people they are today. Here are 10 seeds that agriculture plants and grows in our youth.
1. Responsibility—caring for livestock, the land, and crops takes great responsibility, and for many youth involved in agriculture, responsibility is something they learn early on.
2. Work Ethic—as wonderful as agriculture is, it is hard work. Fighting against elements and stubborn animals 24/7 requires a strong work ethic. Agriculture a strong work ethic in youth that they carry with them far into the future.
3. Fortitude—it is inevitable that if you are involved in agriculture, something goes wrong, breaks down, or gets loose. It is not for the faint of heart. Agriculture gives youth fortitude for whatever life throws at them.
4. Humbleness—from the field to the show ring, agriculture teaches humbleness. There is no room for cockiness. Confidence—yes, but never cockiness. Humbleness is learned through setbacks, stiff competition in the show ring, and the knowledge of being part of something so much bigger than yourself.
5. Critical Thinking—equipment breaks down. Animals get sick. Problems arise, but youth in agriculture learn to manage those problems with critical thinking. They think on their feet and learn to stop, observe, and truly analyze the problem to reach a solution. After all, for many, Google is awful slow at loading “way out there.”
6. Kindness—agriculture takes fortitude and toughness and grit, but it also requires tenderness and kindness. Agriculture is raising humans to be kind, thoughtful and nurturing. Because plants and animals can’t grow without kindness.
7. Curiosity—agriculture spans so many topics and is large. The curiosity it sparks is never ending. For youth, there are always new breeds to discover, new ag tech to try, and something to learn.
8. Forward Thinking—whether it is thinking of their next show animal or next year’s crop, agriculture encourages youth to think of the future. They learn about sustainability and make goals. They aren’t just preparing for the future; they are our future.
9. Science—agriculture teaches science to kids. Biology, chemistry, physiology, statistics, physics…it’s all there. Agriculture gives youth hands-on science lessons that provides them with a solid foundation.
10. Creativity—if you’ve ever fitted livestock, you know that it takes creativity and finesse to make the animal look just so. If you’ve ever fixed something with baling twine or duct tape, you know what it is to be creative in ag. Beyond that, agriculture provides the perfect canvas for youth to be creative, try new things, and think outside the box.
Agriculture is not just important for the products it produces but is important for instilling character into our youth. Agriculture is more than tractors, crops, and livestock, it is about instilling lessons and life skills into youth so that they become good humans. Agriculture grows more than corn and livestock, it grows youth.