Intern Perspective: Empowering Youth in Agriculture

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By: Lacie Dotterweich

As a young adult studying to work in agriculture, and a native rural Iowan, I have known firsthand the struggles rural America faces today.

I think most will agree that agriculture has a bit of an image problem – at least with youth and young adults. When one thinks of agriculture or farming, the first thoughts to come to mind are usually that it is back breaking labor and a path with little room for career advancement.

These false perceptions lead us to an issue facing much of rural America, the rapidly rising average age of farmers and agricultural workers and the exodus of rural youth. Young people are needed in agriculture more than ever, and the responsibility to attract young people to agriculture falls on us all.

Making agriculture attractive or “cool” to youth is the key to filling these age gaps. We must show that agriculture is a bustling, high-tech industry with many different roles and paths to take, and has tons of room for advancement and economic growth. From agricultural communications to plant breeding to arboriculture, there is truly a niche for any interest.

NASDA goes above and beyond in educating and recruiting young people in agriculture. Programs such as NASDA’s Next Generation and the student agricultural policy internship give young people the opportunities needed to succeed in the agricultural industry. I have truly enjoyed my time here at NASDA, and thank everyone for giving me this opportunity to grow, learn, and be challenged.