Encourage children to follow agricultural dreams

These two children took a walk through a freshly harvested field to discuss corn conditions (we imagine) in September 2016. Farm and Dairy file photo.

“Because of their connection to the land, farmers do more to protect and preserve our environment than almost anyone else. They are some of the best environmentalists around.”

— Ike Skelton, former US representative for Missouri’s 4th Congressional District

By incorporating the youth into agricultural practices, we will have a future that includes those who want to help in any way they can.

My family has been and still is a big part of the agricultural industry, starting with my great-great-grandfather, Urban Zwick. My great-grandfather Don Zwick and my uncle Ken Zwick would always tell us about how farming was back in the day. I loved listening to these stories and could sit there for hours listening. My great-grandfather Don was the first to show me how to drive a tractor on his Farmall Sample A tractor. I remember being over the moon and would always say, “I want to be a farmer so I can drive tractors.” Now I did not stay with that idea, but I did further my education in agriculture.

As a young girl, I spent a lot of my summers bailing hay with my family and helping with the cattle. I spent as much time as I could either asking questions about the animals or asking questions while sitting on the fender of an Allis Chalmers D17 while tedding and raking hay. I am sure I annoyed my father and my cousins ​​with all the questions I had, but to me, I was learning the aspects of the agricultural industry.

My dad, Darren, pushed me to be in 4-H, where I was shown that not everyone is a farmer. This helped me as I got older to be there for those kids who wanted to dabble in the industry. I spent 11 years in the 4-H program and four years as part of the Minerva Local Schools FFA Chapter.

Those four years I was an officer for the chapter, from being the sentinel and the treasurer up to the president. Those offices helped me to be an advocate and the reason little kids could get the feel of the industry.

While being in these organizations my dad finally started to let me show dairy beef feeders. After dealing with cattle most of my life, I had the big responsibility of taking care of four calves. With the help of my dad and many fights, we raised these calves and it was show time. Now, at first, it was not the best, but I was determined to get a grand champion. I worked hard for it many early mornings and many late nights before it paid off. I received a county-born-and-raised grand champion. This was when I thought I had my college major picked out.

In my junior year of high school, I started visiting colleges for agriculture, but after many people had said I would not make it in the industry. I started to second-guess myself. Was this something I really wanted to do? I love the industry but were they right?

Senior year came, and I started applying to colleges, I was accepted into many for agriculture already, but I thought why not apply to schools to be a medical assistant? I would still be helping people. The first day of classes came for my start as a medical assistant, I did not make it through that class before I went and changed my major back to agriculture because my heart knew that is what I wanted to do.

After changing my major, I was happy, I was learning about what I loved and knew this was what I wanted to do for a career. Now I am an agriculture and natural resources technician at Jefferson Soil and Water Conservation District.

With the support of my family and the love I gained for the agricultural industry, I learned one thing that I will always tell people: get the children out and around this industry and maybe one day they will be the future of agriculture. Even if those children annoy you with a million questions, take the time to teach them that they can do whatever they want. If they show an interest in 4-H let them join. If they show an interest in FFA let them join. It is not all about the farm kids, it can be anyone who thinks they would like it, let them dabble in the agriculture industry.

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