Monday, August 23, 2010

Agriculture and the Next Generation

When you were a teen, how much did you know about your parent's occupation or the family business? My guess is unless you grew up in agriculture the answer would be not much. Agriculture is different from many other businesses or occupations because of the family involvement.

The children of farmers and ranchers are indoctrinated in agriculture at an early age. Often the conversation around the dinner table (yes, most of us still gather around the dinner table) centers around the family business. Most of us started working side-by-side with our parents and grandparents at an early age. By the time we were in our teens we knew much about the family business and the day-to-day operations. That was made very clear to me this weekend.

I had the honor of coaching the 4-H Livestock Sweepstakes team from our county this weekend. The livestock sweepstakes is a series of four contests that test the knowledge of 4-Hers as it pertains to the production of livestock and meat. The youth that participated in these contests demonstrated a knowledge of the business that most adult workers don't have in their respective occupations.

The 4-Hers taking part in this competition identified equipment used in various phases of livestock production. They performed complicated calculations used on a daily basis by farmers and ranchers. Participants were tested on their understanding of biological processes, anatomy, nutrition and economics that pertain to the production of the meat on your dinner table. They also had to be able to articulate their understanding orally. In short, they demonstrated an understanding of the business that takes many other occupations years to learn.

I wish you could have attended this competition with me and I am sure you would have been equally impressed. Not only did the 4-Hers compete in this highly technical series of contests but they also modeled professionalism, courtesy and ethics during them. You would have seen an impressive group of young professionals who were articulate, well-dressed and professional.

I guess I am bragging about our farm and ranch kids but I do so to give you more insight into our lives. Farming and ranching on any level (from the smallest truck farm to the largest corporate farm) is a family affair and all generations are involved at a level most other businesses cannot understand and only dream of. In any case, rest assured that the next generation of farmers and ranchers are already on the job and they are incredible.

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