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Posted by on Aug 2, 2013 in Featured, From the Director | 0 comments

Youth Agricultural Programs In The State

Youth Agricultural Programs In The State

Agriculture is the foundation on which the State of Ohio was built.  Today, the food and agriculture industry is just as important as ever, adding $105 billion to the state’s economy and providing one in seven Ohioans with jobs.  For the continued prosperity of agriculture, it is important to teach people, beginning at a young age, exactly what rural life is, and how food is produced for our world.  Youth programs such as 4-H and FFA don’t simply teach our youth about food and the outdoors; these programs instill life lessons and skills into the future politicians, business owners, and leaders of our state.

I can say this from personal experience.  Having grown up on a 460 acre farm just two miles south of Greenfield, I spent my summers baling hay, and my winters throwing down silage.    It was hard work and it was steady work, but there wasn’t any part of my family’s farm operation that I didn’t enjoy.  Some of my fondest memories on the farm come from my involvement in my local FFA and 4-H programs.  I took market steers and market hogs to the fair with 4-H, and I participated in public speaking and parliamentary procedure contests with FFA.  The lessons that I’ve learned and the skills that I’ve gained through these programs have been essential to me both in my career and in my life.   

Programs such as 4-H and FFA are not only invaluable experiences for the youth of our state, but they also have deep roots in Ohio’s agricultural history.  Today, 6.5 million young people participate in 4-H programs all across the country and the world.  Yet 4-H originated here in Clark County, Ohio, when A.B. Graham founded the first club in 1902.  Ohio was also the first state in the country to have a junior fair.  Young Ohioans began taking livestock to our State Fair as early as 1929, and the rest of the country soon followed in our lead.  Today, youth involvement in agriculture is celebrated all across the state of Ohio with our 87 county fairs and 7 independent fairs.  Through our Agriculture is Cool! program at the Ohio State Fair, young people can learn about agriculture and gain newfound interest in agriculture through several interactive exhibits.

Today, the junior fair is the highlight of the summer for many.  It is a place where youngsters can come together to celebrate agriculture and rural life, and a place where leadership, innovation, and hard work are rewarded.   The junior fair has always been one of my favorite parts of the summer. I enjoy meeting kids and hearing about their projects, as well as sharing my memories and experiences from the farm where I grew up.


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