If you clicked on this article, it’s pretty likely you have some connection to the agriculture industry. The future can be scary. Especially with things threatening the livelihood of so much of our community here in North Dakota and the Midwest. Fear-based marketing, straight INSANE food labeling, and a general fear of chemicals.
By 2050 the world’s food supply will need to grow by 70% to meet the needs of a growing population. We need biotechnology, genetic modification, and a whole lot of fresh brain power and collaboration to make it happen.
Enter the next generation.
Gen Z might not have the best rapport on social media. Yes, some of them ate Tide Pods, they are more involved in social media, some might be lazy and entitled, and of course the VSCO girls and their scrunchies. Some of these kids never even got a chance to prove themselves as anything but their peers mistakes.
Gen Z is the generation of people who are born between 1997 and the present day.
I think they’ve been judged too fast. The Gen Z youth I know and work with everyday? The youth I work with who are passionate in agriculture especially? They are hardworking. Dedicated. Passionate. Smart. Dedicated. They’re also the generation that has grown up with the most access to anything they want to know, available by a few taps on a screen.
4-H is the largest youth development organization in the world. Yes it focuses on all kinds of activities, from civic engagement to aerospace. The roots of the 4-H program are buried into the agriculture industry, from the Ohio corn clubs of 1912, to the 4-H’ers who show cattle at their county fairs in 2020. Another fantastic organization? FFA. No, it no longer stands for Future Farmers of America, and also focuses on a multitude of learning.
I could talk for DAYS on the proven benefits of both of these programs, but lets just focus on what we can all do to invest in these fantastic youth.
Volunteer with your program
In 4-H, the Extension Agent or Educator cannot feasibly be able to know, teach, and be everywhere for these youth. Know a lot about biotechnology, photography, ceramics, or crop production? See if you can teach a workshop or judge at a fair in your county or state.
Donate to your local or state program
Yes, money talks. Maybe you don’t feel comfortable teaching, or don’t have the time to work with youth. Donate to your local program. I bet they would love the chance to purchase some new program aids, fund an experience for 4-H’ers, or get them some great incentives to encourage them to stay.
Follow pages online
Social media is a fantastic tool. Follow your county Extension or 4-H offices on social media channels, interact with their posts and share them! Showing that support online can open the door to showcase the work that these 4-H’ers do. Plus? It’s free and quick to do. Even better? Share your 4-H or FFA story online!
Mentor, trust, and support them
We all make mistakes. I’m positive we all did something in high school or college that thinking back on still makes us think about our idiotic ways, and makes us want to hide in a hole just thinking about. These youth are no different, they’re working through becoming successful adults, and they need mentor relationships with adults. To become the future generation that is going to help solve problems in our world and industry, they need to be given the tools to do just that.
Give your Extension office a call, work with some 4-H youth, share that clover post online, and help empower the next generations of agriculturalists and leaders.