I shudder every time I hear the phrase “kids these days…” This sentence often includes words like entitled, sheltered, or lazy. I’m not here to argue with you, (but contact me and I gladly will). Instead, I’m here to tell you what AFGC is doing about it and how you can get involved.
If you were at the 2019 AFGC conference in St. Louis, you were likely approached by a group of students asking you to take a picture with them, possibly doing something strange like playing leap frog in the hotel lobby. I hope you took the picture and I know many of you did. These students were there to compete in The National Forage Bowl Competition; this contest is one way AFGC is investing in the future of agriculture by investing in the next generation. On the surface, this competition is between teams from colleges and universities from across the eastern US. Sure, it’s fun to watch them duke it out for the top prize, but that’s not why we do it. Our mission is to get young people interested in forage agriculture and expose them to the professional opportunities that await them after graduation. Of the 28 undergraduates from 6 schools that participated in 2019, I can’t say all of them will end of being extension agents, specialists, or industry reps.
What I can say is that these students were exposed to these possible careers and many of them likely never considered these types of positions before. Some of these students may go on to be top forage producers, growing the food and fiber for the next generation. A few will likely try their hand at graduate school after meeting a inspiring professor whom offered them a position after the meeting. Even those that don’t stay in agriculture at all will have a better understanding of the industry and a better appreciation for those that till (or no-till) the land, to produce the resources we all need. As a young woman who didn’t grow up on a farm and fell into agriculture by accident, I can tell you events like this change the trajectory of lives. I’ve seen it and lived it. My hope is that students who participate in the AFGC National Forage Bowl Competition are still “Kids these days…” Kids that work hard, that care about protecting our resources, that strive to understand the science and not the perception and that choose a path for their lives as rewarding and blessed as so many of us in the fo
rage world are fortunate enough to enjoy today.
The AFGC National Forage Bowl Competition (and the goose chase we send them on) is a labor of love for me and the others I have persuaded to help me. If you attend the AFGC conference in January, cheer for the students and talk to them at the conference. And most of all, take the picture with them! ~ Krista Lea, National Forage Bowl Chair, from AFGC Forage Feed