Kansas Ag Week: Teaching the Younger generations

Were you aware that there were 8 MILLION members enrolled in 329 thousand 4-H clubs and 4-H sanctioned programs? That 33% were in grades K-3, 39% grades 4-6, 16 % grades 7-9 and 9% in grades 10-12. I attribute the dwindling percentages in the older kids to joining FFA (Future Farmers of America) when they are of high school age.

Were you also aware that there are 33 MILLION school age children in the United States? That puts 4-H enrollment at only 24% of kids, which means that only 2.4 out of every 10 kids has ever had any influence of agriculture in their lives. Granted, there are some "farm kids" that are never in 4-H but that is more the exception than the rule.

Wyatt shaking up his ice cream for one
activity during their meeting.
Friends, we have a lot of work to do to touch the lives of these children and teach them the actualities of the agriculture world. There are several groups out there, not naming any names *cough, cough* PETA, set out to convince them that we are wrong and inhumane, if we don't show them otherwise then who is left to blame the kids for believing them? We are. We can no longer just assume that they are being taught correctly about our industry, because that is simply not true. Most are even 2 to 3 generations removed from agriculture which means in some cases their parents and grandparents aren't even educated on what we do for a living. Like I've said before it's time to take a stand, pull our boots up and get to getting, after all that's what we are good at anyway's , isn't it?

A good place to start is by encouraging  the younger generations that are already interested, to pursue a life goal in AG by showing them what a diverse culture we are as an industry, that they actually have options, you don't just have to be a farmer or a rancher. Dream big and go for the gold!

 Wyatt Gigot, the son of Marc and Jackie Gigot (Circle Heifer Development,) invited TJ McClure of Circle Heifer Development, LLC in Garden City, Kansas  to represent him for career day in his 4-H club, The Happy Hustlers.

 TJ set out to inform them of the different options they would have in the heifer development industry. He also, explained to them what actually goes on at his facility.
TJ McClure speaking to the Happy Hustlers
4-H Club

At Circle Heifer, they receive female Holsteins at the age of 6 months. They raise these heifers on a silage/roughage diet, expertly care for them with the help of a veterinarian, breed them and when the time comes send them happily back to the dairy and herd to which they belong. Each heifer has an individual i.d. that can trace their entire record while in the care of TJ and his crew to be sure that she has the attention she needs. Their goal is to provide high quality care, full service development and expertly chosen genetics for breeding to encourage a returning customer.

Examples of careers at his company are:
  • General Manager - usually requiring a Bachelors of Animal Science background
  • Large Animal Veterinarian 
  • Animal Nutritionists
  • Commodity Re-seller
  • Artificial Insemination Specialist
  • Office and Computer help
  • Human Resources
  • Cowboys
  • Feed truck Drivers
  • Mill Operators
Heifer calves being trained in stanchions at
Circle Heifer Development
One of my favorite questions from a member to TJ was, "What is your favorite part of your job?" He answered with, "The fact that our organization impacts the entire circle of life in the dairy industry.  Raising the calves from 6 months of age through breeding, we will hopefully see many generations of the same herd through our facility." 

A large point that he really wanted to drive home was that there are many many options for a career field in agriculture. A lot of the time kids are only acquainted with area their parents work in and don't realize how much our industry really has to offer.

TJ is a great leader in agvocacy and truly cares to teach others about his field. What are you doing to teach the consumer about your part?

I of course have to add this picture of Wyatt's little sister, she's too darn cute!

Lauren wanted to take a "silly" picture :)

Until  next time...

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