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.