Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Ag Expo8 - Where middle schoolers learn about agriculture

The Clinton Career Network wanted to introduce 8th graders in the county to the many agricultural careers available.  They brought 600 students over three days to AgroLiquid Corporate Headquarters in St Johns.  The students listened to speakers, visited their choice of four job stations, and consulted with educational institutions.

It was a great representation of ag careers, both traditional and non-traditional - including communications, agronomy, marketing and sales, human resources, banking, veterinary medicine, conservation, agri-tourism, and of course ... farming!

A few interesting points ...

- I really enjoyed talking to the students who came to my station.  I often started by asking them if they already knew what they wanted to do when they grew up.

Many of them already knew, and their answers didn't often fit with the agriculture theme.  When a student would answer. "neurosurgeon," or "pediatric dentist," I would focus on what brings us all together no matter the job ... food.  It was also nice that we gave out cheese sticks.  Go dairy!

- One group of students said they didn't know what they wanted to do when they grew up.  I said, "Well, what are your parents' jobs?  Do you want those jobs?"  Some of the kids in this group didn't know what their parents did.  "He works ... in an office ..." one kid trailed off.  "It's in Lansing." Another girl said, "My dad works for the state and I don't know what my mom does.  She works ... somewhere."

This really surprised me, because I thought everyone knew what their parents did for a job.  For me, it took me back to part of the reason we quit our marketing jobs to buy the farm.  I distinctly remember Kris saying, "I want our kids to know what we do.  I don't want to be gone all the time and them have no idea where I work or what I do every day.  If we farm it's all at our house."

- For the kids who did know their parents' jobs, I said, "Would you want those jobs?"  "Noooo!" they chorused.  I turned to a kid who said his dad was a dentist. "Why not?"  "Because he always complains about his job," he said.  The other kids agreed.

That's another funny thing about farming, for all the (millions of) worries about farming, people keep wanting their kids to do it!  In fact, I was at a farm meeting this past week and a dairy farmer said, "I have five kids ... four of them have moved out and never want to farm - one's still in high school ... so I have ONE MORE chance!" The whole room laughed.

So not only are we growing and raising food, but we're also producing the next farmers!

- I got to one group and asked a girl what she wanted to be when she grew up.  She said seriously, "A YouTuber.  They definitely make the most money."  She had green hair and was wearing a Pikachu costume.  I think she's well on her way - careers have been made on much less!

When I was in 8th grade, my first job after graduation - telecommuting as a technical writer for a software development firm - didn't even exist.  It's fun to think about what careers these students will be pursuing, and how business and technology will change before they even graduate.

I read a quote by Brenda Schoepp that read, “My grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher, but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.”

Thankfully, we need all of us.  And the more you know about careers, the easier you can make your decisions!  That's exactly what I'll be telling my boys as they pick what they want to do ... no pressure on becoming the seventh generation. I mean ... being a YouTuber is hard to beat.

Thank you to everyone involved with Ag Expo8!

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Some details:
Students Introduced to Ag Careers at Ag Expo8

More than 600 Clinton County eighth grade students recently had an opportunity to begin thinking about their futures, and consider careers in Michigan’s second largest industry. Students from Bath, Pewamo-Westphalia, Ovid-Elsie, Dewitt, Fowler, Fowler Most Holy Trinity and St. Joseph Pewamo assembled over a three-day period at AgroLiquid Corporate Headquarters in St. Johns. The Clinton County Ag Expo8 development committee would like to thank the following list of sponsors, supporters and presenters for their dedication to this event: 

Greenstone Farm Credit Services
Clinton County Economic Alliance 
Clinton Conservation District 
Clinton County Regional Educational Service Agency 
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Clinton Veterinary Service, P.C.
MSU College of Veterinary Medicine
Clinton County Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources
Ovid-Elsie Agriculture Program
MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources
Michigan College Access Network
Clinton County RESA Career Connections
United Dairy Industry of Michigan
Lansing Community College C3R

For more information about the Clinton Career Network please contact Denise Palmer at 989-224-6831, ext. 2365.

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