Have you ever heard the saying “children are our future”? I’m sure you have. It is such a true statement.
So shouldn’t it apply to farming, too? From a personal standpoint, I believe it does. I spent my entire childhood on a farm. Through the triumphs and failures, I learned the true meaning of farming and the importance of family. None of it meant much to me at the time, but now I cherish the knowledge and values I have gained from being raised by farmers.
Granted, no child wants to spend their entire summer planting, hoeing, picking and selling pumpkins. Is there really anybody that does (besides my dad)? I know I didn’t, but now that I’m older I look at all that time spent in the fields from a different point of view. I look at it as time spent with family and a lot of knowledge gained. That’s why I pursued a career in agriculture, because that’s what I grew up doing. As the years progress, I see another Ackerman generation being raised the same way I was.
My nephew loves to farm, and my dad has never shied away from taking his grandson out in the fields with him. That little boy knows everything there is to know about baling hay. He knows the process and all the equipment like the back of his hand, a pretty impressive accomplishment for a 3 1/2-year-old.
Involving children when they are young, teaches them an appreciation for the environment that they can expand on throughout their life. They learn the importance of farming, and they gain family values from working alongside loved ones. There is so much to teach and so much to learn when it comes to farming. From a single blade of grass to an entire herd of grazing cattle, and from the simplicity of a single kernel to the complexity of an entire corn field. There is an infinite amount of knowledge to be shared. So I am here to encourage you to agriculturally impact a child’s life.
Help sustain the future of farming. Whether or not you have children or grandchildren, make an effort to spark an agricultural interest in someone. I can’t think of an easier way to get children outside than to tell them they can play in dirt.
Here at Belmont SWCD, we attain this goal through our Conservation Field Days. Every Friday for eight weeks, we promote the environment to children through hands on experiences. This camp gives children a broad understanding of everything the environment has to offer us.
This year we covered the usefulness of GPS and applied it in the field. We taught children about wildfire safety and took them on an overnight camping trip. They learned about canoeing, fly fishing, trapping and water quality. We also toured places like DeNoon Lumber and a local dairy farm. To top it all off, we spent a day at The Wilds. Not all children will show an interest in the same thing, but as long as you can get them to be interested in something, the task has been completed, and we can all have a little more hope in the future of farming.
I’m not saying that all children need to grow up to be farmers, we all know that’s not practical, but all children do need to grow up to know what farming consists of. They need to know that their food came from somewhere other than the grocery store. They need to know that there is a dying breed of humans called farmers that work hard every day for others. So maybe, just maybe, after knowing a little bit about what farming does for them, they might be willing to grow up and do the same.
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