As a large number of farmers approach retirement, it will be essential to replace those farmers with young, bright, and forward-thinking people. The best way to achieve this is by educating youth with the attractive features and future possibilities for agricultural producers. Parents, teachers and other adults should be encouraging youth to remain in the agricultural careers. Youth should be exposed to agricultural sciences at an early age to develop a knowledge base to build on topics such as crop production.
Several programs developed by Nebraska Extension in collaboration with commodity organizations and businesses. The Innovative Youth Corn Challenge provides youth the opportunity to learn about crop production by testing corn production practices or products to increase corn yields. The Youth Crop Scouting Competition provides students an opportunity to learn crop scouting and principles of integrated pest management (IPM) for corn and soybeans in Nebraska.
Crop Science Investigation (CSI) workshop series held in Nebraska teach youth various agronomic principles. Since 2008, youth have participated in a comprehensive series of workshops throughout the year. Those who have attended learned not only the technical content related to cropping systems, but applied those concepts with hands-on activities or projects. Topics taught at each workshop include: crop end uses, agronomic-related careers, crop growth, pest management, irrigation management, cropping systems, tillage, etc. Each year, youth continue the CSI series learning about different topics and for previous participants, more in-depth information covered from the previous year’s sessions.
Youth involved in a Crop Science Investigation program experienced the influence of science and technology on crop management through hands-on activities. One participant reported using science and technology in 4-H to “read the watermark sensors, calculate how much irrigation is necessary, and help my dad decide when to water the fields.” Another youth said that as a result of the CSI workshop series, he is now considering a major in agronomy.
For youth resources related to crops, check out the CropWatch-Youth page.