The July 16, 2018 edition of Growing our Generation features multiple editors–students who took part in the new ExploreAg program, not as participants, but as program interns. This is the first year for ExploreAg, which offered two camps for 43 high school students to learn about careers in agriculture.
Chris Young: Agricultural Communication and Political Science, The Ohio State University
Working with Ohio Farm Bureau for the new ExploreAg program was like something I’ve never experienced before! It was so neat being able to watch youth from rural and urban backgrounds truly appreciate every sector within our great industry. Students and staff went on industry tours to places like Select Sires, Smuckers, Certified Angus Beef, BioOhio Research, Buckeye Country Creamery, Coalescence, PAST Foundation, and a John Deere training facility. Along with those stops we were also able to visit; the Veterinarian School, Meat Science Lab, Food Science Lab, and Entomology Lab all on The Ohio State University’s Columbus and Wooster campuses and Central State University’s campus. We also made stops at Little Darby and Mohican State parks! As you can see we had a wide range of stops that fit into just about every category with agriculture!
My favorite stop was Certified Angus Beef. Being an agricultural communication major, seeing all of the new technologies being used to commercialize high quality beef was such a cool experience! The stop also reminded me how important it is to communicate with every consumer, and be sure to match their interests.
Overall, I’m extremely thankful to have been on this year’s staff for ExploreAg. Going into the camps, my goal was to open the eyes of all the students to all the amazing opportunities within Ohio and American agriculture. At the end of each camp we were able to ask each student if after their ExploreAg experience, “Could you see yourself eventually working in the agriculture industry?” I’m proud to say every student answered they could! I have a tremendous amount of gratitude to the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation and Dr. Emily Buck for giving students from all around the state of Ohio such an amazing opportunity that will have a lasting impact on their future!
Shaye Creamer: Agriculture Education, Wilmington College
With the increasing number of agriculture job openings and the decreasing number of people to fill them, it is more important than ever to support the youth in agriculture. I believe in career readiness for students. Providing students with the resources to build professional bridges with people who can influence their future career and educational choices is a valuable thing for the next generation of students and agriculturalists. Many students are completely unaware of the thousands of job opportunities and potential that lies within the agriculture industry, and although high school students shouldn’t be expected to know exactly what they want to do as soon as they graduate, it should be our job to help them realize the never-ending potential that we provide in Ohio agriculture.
As a future educator, this experience has served as a perfect opportunity to work with students to prepare them for the next step in their lives, and I have been able to help create hands-on learning experiences for our campers that were truly valuable to the student and their education. I am truly fortunate to have worked with our brilliant students at the first ever ExploreAg Camps. I was truly impressed with their commitment and their open minds as we explored and learned about different aspects of Ohio agriculture. Our students had the opportunity of a lifetime, where we were able to visit and interact with places like Smuckers that, without this program, our students wouldn’t have ever seen before. It is experiences like this that made our camp so special, where students took charge of their own learning and walked away with memories that will truly impact their future.
Kameron Rinehart: Agriculture Business and Political Sciences, Wilmington College
To be a small part of the first-ever Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation ExploreAg Camp was such an incredible experience! Getting to see youth from agricultural and non-agricultural backgrounds come together to learn about professions within the agriculture industry was a transformational experience for them and for the staff. It was amazing to me to see the interest level of the campers during the two weeks we spent at camp. From industry tours to hearing from faculty and staff at The Ohio State University and Central State University, participants were able to learn so much about agriculture and being involved in agriculture.
One of my favorite stops was getting to visit Central State University, and to see the remarkable the research they have going on! I was able to learn so much from Dr. Lowell who is a professor at Central State. She was incredible with her research in weeds and weed control within production agriculture. It continues to amaze me the research that is going on at Central State that most don’t even know about! I highly encourage everyone to learn more about Central State and all they’re doing for agriculture.
Overall, I believe that ExploreAg is an incredible experience that all youth should take a part in! Whether you come from a 5,000 acre farm or you are from inner city Cinncinati, this program is for you! I encourage everyone to apply for this opportunity to learn more about Ohio’s No. 1 industry which is agriculture and the opportunities that lie within. I personally learned so much and made new connections with industry leaders and friendships that will help me in my future in Ohio agriculture.
Courtney Hovest: Extension Education, The Ohio State University
Having the opportunity to be a counselor for the ExploreAg Camp was such a great experience to help give high school students the chance to see and learn about the different careers in agriculture. When most kids think of agriculture, their mind goes directly to farming. However, the whole idea behind this camp was to show kids that there is much more out there to do in the agricultural industry besides driving a tractor or raising cattle.
My favorite part of this camp was watching the kids grow from the beginning of the week to the end. Most of the kids came to the camp with little knowledge of agriculture and without knowing anyone else there. They all left the camp with new friends for the summer, along with many new job ideas related to ag. The best part about camp is that not only did they learn about new jobs, but over half of the kids were interested in at least one, if not a couple of the careers we saw and were looking for the next step to get involved with it. I can’t wait to see what they have planned for the program for next year to continue to open the minds of the next generation to agriculture.
Kayla Erickson: Agriculture Education, The Ohio State University
My involvement in the agricultural industry was not a typical “raised on the farm type.” My involvement didn’t occur until I was a sophomore in high school when I decided to join my high school’s FFA chapter. I got as involved as I could, taking part in various CDE’s, becoming an officer, and jumping at every opportunity to become more involved. The FFA helped me discover my passion for agriculture. When it was time to decide a major to pursue in college, I looked to my passion for FFA and agriculture to decide that I wanted to help other students have the same life changing experience that I did.
The ExploreAg Camp did just that. I got to help the youth of the next generation get a look inside the fascinating industry of agriculture. Each tour that we were a part of enlightened the students of the array of careers available in the industry. We explored various research facilities, organizations that are innovating new technologies, marketing companies and many others. At each stop, all of the students were inspired by what each career had to offer. This camp gave not only me the opportunity share my passion for agriculture with the next generation, but also with the other counselors and directors. The lasting knowledge and memories that they made during this camp will change their, as well as my own, futures for years to come.