The U.S. faces a shortage of scientists who are “ag literate.”
With fewer youth going into agriculture, the long-term future of the agricultural industry is in question. A total of 25,700 new jobs for management and business, and 14,600 new jobs in agriculture and science and engineering, are created annually, according to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics. Unfortunately, there currently aren’t enough graduates to meet the needs, a U.S. Department of Agriculture survey states.
To help solve this problem, Osceola County UF/ IFAS Extension recently partnered with local community organizations to provide an agriculture awareness event called Farm City Day. Farm City Day introduces fourth grade youth in Osceola County to agriculture in their backyards.
Farm City Days is a one-day event that shows fourth graders the connection between the farm and their food. This year, 650 youngsters from five Osceola County schools participated in Farm City Days. The students and teachers rotated through 21 stations comprised of local agriculture partners. Each station focused on different topics relating to agriculture in Osceola County, such as water, the protection of agriculture, crops, livestock, agriculture history, and future agriculture careers.
By getting youth interested in agriculture at a young age, possible scientists/professionals will be ready to fill the 14,600 new jobs in agriculture that are created annually. They might help establish policies that will help support a competitive agricultural industry in the United States and abroad, according to the National Academic of Science’s Committee in Agricultural Education. Getting youth interested early in agriculture might change the future of professionals in agriculture in our state, officials said.
Jessica Sprain is an extension agent, 4-H youth development with UF/IFAS Extension, Osceola County.