Youth and careers in agriculture

4-H provides youth with opportunities to learn and explore agriculture-related jobs and careers.

Careers in the agriculture field are important to give youth awareness for job possibilities as they start looking at jobs and what they would like to do in the future. Giving youth a chance to experience opportunities in what they might be interested in helps determine what direction to take, whether it be attending college or trade school, accepting an internship and a whole lot more.

How does 4-H prepare youth for careers? There are a variety of hands-on learning experiences that can help them become successful in looking at careers, including interviews, resume writing and writing thank-you notes. There are also several 4-H curriculums that help members build their own portfolio, such as the Build Your Future curriculum.

4-H uses the Experiential Learning Model to help review existing experiences and use them for future experiences. The Experiential Learning Mode consists of experience, share, process, generalize and apply. For instance, using the Experiential Learning Model, youth does the project then reviews what they learned and how they can apply what they learned in other settings.

Another way 4-H helps prepare youth for upcoming careers is using the Life Skills Wheel. Youth learn many life skills through their 4-H experiences, whether it may be in a club setting, a short-term project, attending camps or clinics. By being in a specific project, not only are you learning about the project, you are developing life skills to help you later in life. For example, if a 4-H member is in a sewing club, that member will learn life skills such as decision-making, problem-solving and marketable skills. Employers look for these types of skills on resumes of 4-H members.

When looking at careers in the agriculture field, working on the farm is only one option. The opportunities youth have in seeking a variety of agriculture-related activities can start out with what the youth is interested in. For working outdoors, how about an ecologist? A person might work with animals, plants and the environment. In the science, technology, engineering and math field, careers can include agronomist, animal nutritionist, entomologist, or related to engineering of new machinery. Marketing, hospitality, tourism and manufacturing are more agriculture career-focused areas. Veterinarian, food scientist, wildlife biologist and florist are even more career opportunities in the agriculture field.

4-H gives youth the opportunity to try out some of these careers. How you ask? When youth are involved in livestock projects, sewing, crafts or maybe they raise their own field crops, they are learning by doing. Youth can develop an interest and follow through with certain projects. Maybe they would like to learn more about a specific project and develop that interest as a possible career.

For more information on 4-H, youth development and Michigan State University Extension programs, contact your local MSU Extension office.

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