When the average age of the American farmer is 58 and the number of farmers over age 65 outnumbers those under 35 by a margin of six-to-one, it’s more important than ever to get young people interested in agriculture. After all, they’ll someday have a role in growing the food we eat.
This year’s Culver’s FFA Essay Contest focused on this idea by asking FFA members to write about the importance of getting more young people to join the agricultural industry. FFA members were also asked to share why their peers should be excited to be part of the industry.
The three winning students’ chapters listed below received a total of $15,000 from Culver’s to help fund educational initiatives, like a trip to the National FFA Convention & Expo Oct. 30 to Nov. 2 in Indianapolis.
First place ($7,500): Madison D.’s Wakefield FFA Chapter in Raleigh, N.C.
Second place ($5,000): Will H.’s Durant FFA Chapter in Plant City, Fla.
Third place ($2,500): Katelyn C.’s Cumberland County FFA Chapter in Crossville, Tenn.
“We loved reading about how excited and passionate FFA members are about agriculture and having more young people consider careers in the industry,” Culver’s Senior Marketing Manager Jessie Kreke said. “It’s clear that the future of agriculture is in great hands with these students!”
The excerpts that follow are from the winning essays, which were selected by Culver’s and the National FFA Organization.
Madison D. encouraged young people to consider the entrepreneurial opportunities in the agricultural industry:
- “Entrepreneurs, even small ones, can make a difference by both creating jobs for the jobless and food to feed the world. It is very important that we recruit young people to work in the agricultural field, whether it is to continue the outward supply of food to the world or to help solve problems, like climate change.”
- “Agriculture can be a gold mine for young entrepreneurs. Several young entrepreneurs in Africa have proven this. Randa Filfili from Senegal recognized the value in the fruit of cashew trees and created jam products from it for global export. Not only has she been able to grow and maintain a global agribusiness of her own, but she also helped other entrepreneurs reach the global selling status.”
Will H. reminded young people of all the exciting technologies and innovations that exist in the agricultural industry:
- “Farms are adopting the use of drones and autonomous technologies in their fields. More components in processing facilities and logistical functions are controlled with just a simple click on a digital screen.”
- “Moving beyond career fields related directly to growing and distributing the product, other possible opportunities include management, product design and development, agriculture technicians, agriculture law, animal medicine, agriculture engineering, and education. In order for the whole industry to properly function and continue to evolve, we need strong young people to take jobs in all of these categories and lead the industry in continuing improvement.”
Katelyn C. outlined the knowledge and skillsets that Gen Z possesses that benefit the agricultural industry:
- “Born around the turn of the century, our education has taught us the importance of watching carbon dioxide emissions, methane, and practicing energy saving techniques . . . As agriculture uses more and more computer technology, we are better suited to implement the technology in our farms such as drones, satellite guided tractors, and animal GPS tags.”
- “With one in six United States citizens being food insecure, it is vital we keep growing and raising food that is safe, affordable, and abundant.”
The essay contest is part of Culver’s Thank You Farmers Project, which works to ensure the future of our nation’s food supply by supporting agricultural education programs that encourage smart farming. To date, the initiative has raised more than $2 million in support of the National FFA Organization, local FFA chapters and a variety of local agricultural organizations.