Agriculture is the driving force for the Nebraskan economy. With one fourth of our great state’s jobs being involved in agriculture, youth involvement has become crucial in keeping this industry thriving. In July, over 200 Nebraska students were able to network and meet with countless industry professionals at the 47th annual Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute. The institute is free of charge thanks to many generous donations, allowing young ag minded people to network and gain friendships with like-minded people across the state. “The opportunity to network and share idea with people from all over the state that have the same passion for agriculture as me.” Emily Zimmer, a Pleasanton senior said about her experience.
The average age for a farmer in the United States is 58.3 years, growing by 8 years in the past 30. Nebraska needs young farmers and ranchers and thanks to the many programs offered around the state youth have been able to find their path back to the farm. When asked how being involved with NAYI helped him make his decision on his future, Mikael Harrop, a recent graduate of Ansley Public Schools said “NAYI helped me choose what major I wanted to go into and pushed me to do things I thought i would never do.”
For myself, I have been involved with production agriculture my whole life. Growing up on a small cattle ranch and being involved in 4-H, but it wasn’t until my high school began an FFA chapter that I then myself into the field head first. Through my past advisor, a Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council Alumni, I was introduced to this program. Through my involvement I was able to find a career path that I have a true passion for, Agricultural Education and Beef production. Kate Cooper, a recent Waverly graduate said that for her “agriculture is about combining the tradition and innovation to provide healthy, high quality products for the world.”
In an ever-changing industry, currently exploding with new technology, having the means to work with others from different backgrounds has been incredibly important for myself and many others. Major changes are coming our way, one being ethanol. Ethanol production in the United States displaced 560 million barrels of crude oil last year alone. This is just one of the many changes that the coming generation of agriculturalists will experience. KAAPA Ethanol was able to educate youth at NAYI about how this new change will positively affect our industry and future.
Youth across Nebraska are showing more and more passion and drive to become involved in agricultural careers. With the opportunities available and various social media platforms youth are staying connected and making connections across the state. Young people are not just the future, we are the present. Being involved in various agricultural groups I have seen how youth are changing and will continue to change this industry to feed the world. I hope the world is ready for the change that is coming.
Nebraska Farm Bureau sponsored the 2018 Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute held in Lincoln July 9-13.