During a week of hands-on learning, students visited Central State University and the berry lab at Ohio State University’s ATI campus in Wooster, learned about the different cuts of meat, waded into a stream for a water quality lesson, visited Coalescence LLC, a food blending and repackaging company, as well as had a lot of fun while making new friends and helping narrow down their career interests.

“We want you.” The message from internationally known teachers, researchers and leaders in Ohio’s food and farm industries was crystal clear to the 43 high school students attending Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation’s ExploreAg program. This summer the students spent a week on Ohio State University’s main campus or at its Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster and visited college labs, farm fields and factories to learn about the wide variety of innovative and cutting-edge careers in agriculture. They learned about food science, precision agriculture, animal sciences, natural resources, lobbying, management skills, technology and agricultural business.

They also discovered there’s a job waiting for them. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is projecting a shortage nationally of qualified individuals to fill careers in agriculture. Ohio alone is projected to have 18,000 new job openings annually in related fields through 2020.

That’s good news for ExploreAg participant Eliza Jones, a junior at Talawanda High School in Oxford. Ever since joining FFA two years ago, Jones knew she wanted a career in agriculture and was fascinated by farm equipment. It was during ExploreAg’s visit to a John Deere dealership that she realized electrical rather than mechanical engineering was a better fit for her. “Electrical engineering will get me to where I want to be,” she said. “I’m so grateful for this amazing opportunity.”

“You are at the forefront of leading the change in agriculture.” – Jack Fisher to ExploreAg campers.

Featured image caption: ExploreAg participant Eliza Jones with Jack Fisher, former executive vice president of Ohio Farm Bureau.

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I'm eternally grateful for the support Ohio Farm Bureau scholarships provided in helping me turn my dreams into reality.
Bethany Starlin's avatar
Bethany Starlin

Hocking County Farm Bureau

Available scholarships
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
Jenna Gregorich's avatar
Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Business Solutions
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
Jaclyn De Candio's avatar
Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Advocacy
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