Ag Commodities - VCE Showcasing Scholarship Poster
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Youth are our future. Agriculture is our lifeline. Extension merges these two vital topics together through the 4-H Agriculture Commodities Tour, bringing awareness of the necessity for both to meet on an intimate real-life, out-of-classroom experience. Despite the continual and increasing demand for educated agriculturalists, interest and enrollment in agricultural fields of study has stagnated or declined. Lack of exposure, experience and familiarity with agricultural opportunities is likely a large contributor to this problem. By connecting across the state with Extension Agriculture State Specialists and Agents at the ARECs as part of the 2016 tour, 28 inner-city youth had the opportunity of a lifetime to explore agricultural lifestyles and potential careers. Providing more than basic agricultural information books can ever provide, these youths explored the importance of sustainability and stewardship across the state through talks, demonstrations and experiential hands-on learning opportunities. In addition, while learning how agriculture relates to their lives, this also gave them an awareness of career opportunities in agriculture that interest them. Studies demonstrate these interventions yield positive in attracting youth considering agricultural fields as viable career options (McCallister, Lee, & Mason, 2005; Shivy & Koehly, 2002; Esters, 2007; Ladany, Melincoff, Constantine, & Love, 1997). Although measuring the outcome of our youth and their future is beyond the scope of this initial investment, it is hoped that this tour has made a significant impact on the youth’s perception of agriculture outside of the classroom, and encourages them to seek further into this new world of possibilities.