Sustainability has become a real buzzword in agriculture—and rightly so. We need to be talking about how to keep the business of farming and ranching going forward, and we must be wise about using our natural resources. What’s often missing from all this talk about sustainability, however, is what we’re going to do to get the next generation involved in agriculture. How do we pass on a love of agriculture to young people on and off the farm, and encourage more of them to find their calling in one of the most innovative industries in our nation?
These are questions driving the work of the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture. The Foundation brings accuracy and creativity to agricultural education. I’m proud of the Foundation’s work to help consumers—young and old—understand what goes into growing the food, fiber and energy crops that benefit everyone.
The Foundation cannot do its vital work without the support of donors. The Foundation produces resources, games and publications that help students grow in their knowledge and appreciation of agriculture—all thanks to the generous support of donors who share a passion for agriculture.
Most recently, donor support made it possible for our Foundation team to host a booth at the USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo, the nation’s largest STEM event, hosted in Washington, D.C. Twelve thousand urban students, and their families, got to enjoy the My American Farm experience, test their knowledge on where their food comes from, and learn more about the technology it takes to farm efficiently. With the help of Pennsylvania Friends of Agriculture Foundation and its mobile ag lab, our booth was the place to be to learn about the science, innovation and hard work that brings food to our plates. These kinds of events provide the Foundation a unique opportunity to bring the farm to kids who may never have set foot in a barn or field.
We also hope that getting a little taste for ag will lead some of them to consider a career in the field. The Foundation’s new My Little Ag Me allows students everywhere to do just that. With the game, students can put on the hats of up to nine careers in agriculture. From large animal vet to florist to irrigation specialist, students can learn about the diverse opportunities of jobs on and off the farm that support agriculture.
These are just a couple samples from the bounty of agricultural education resources and experiences the hard-working team at the Foundation provides. If we are going to educate consumers from field to fork and get the next generation involved in agriculture, we need to ensure we can continue to plant the seeds that yield a harvest of knowledge. Please consider joining with the Foundation in this good work.
Vincent “Zippy” Duvall, a poultry, cattle and hay producer from Greene County, Georgia, is the 12th president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. You can follow him on Twitter @ZippyDuvall.