1. Working with young people is mutually beneficial
2. Support fresh perspectives and a sustainable workforce
3. Connect your region with global agriculture
My name is Georgie, I’m 26 years old and have the privilege to work with young people in my job as an agricultural lecturer.
When I was growing up on a beef and sheep hill farm on Dartmoor I had a burning ambition to travel the world, see new things, and meet new people; luckily, my passion for farming enabled this to happen.
After travelling and working in agriculture in different countries and studying BSc (Hons) Agriculture with Animal Science at Harper Adams, I settled in Pembrokeshire, Wales, working as an animal health specialist for a farmers’ co-op. I got heavily involved in the local YFC (Young Farmers Club), where I have had the opportunity to arrange farm visits and speakers, inspiring the members, as well as being part of the competitions which give young farmers invaluable skills and confidence.
After a couple of years, my experience in YFC and my love of farming led to a new role as an agricultural lecturer. I soon realised teaching was most definitely my calling, and I’m now in the lucky position to be teaching agriculture and starting as a course tutor this September.
Having experienced working with young people as a young leader for some time now, here are three reasons why I think it’s important for everyone in the industry to consider getting more involved in empowering youth in agriculture.
With limited history, my students are able to approach the subject of agriculture with a refreshing curiosity and open mindedness on how to achieve the end goal of sustainable farming. It is incredibly exciting to work with young people, hearing their ideas and out-of-the-box thinking.
At the same time, I work with my students to bring out their curiosity, encouraging entrepreneurialism, and raising awareness of how important this ‘ultimate primary industry’ is – and the role they can play within it.
The outcome is an interdependent learning environment where everyone wins; my students hopefully benefit from developing skills and experience, whilst the staff and I at the college benefit from new approaches and ways of looking at sustainable practice.
Young people don’t just bring fresh perspectives to the industry, but also ensure a sustainable agricultural workforce, and I feel honoured to be in the position I am to support them on their journey.
As a young leader, I hope I build the technical skill and confidence in my students – who are mostly at college age – to pursue a career in agriculture. I think it is important that students understand the opportunity that they have, and the scope to pioneer new ideas and promote good practice.
Working alongside young people and showing them insights into how the industry is run is a crucial part of this, and I am always considering ways in which students and young people, at college or in the YFC, can be inspired and connected with future employers.
Finally, agriculture on the global scale is a passion close to my heart. Young people should be able to feel the scale of this industry and how it is so globally connected.
From my traveling experience, I’ve witnessed some familiar agricultural challenges, as well as some very different ones, but all with the end goal of sustainable farming which feeds us, clothes us and of course helps us enjoy a night out at the pub, or a walk across beautiful, diverse countryside.
This is where initiatives like the Youth Ag Summit,and other schemes such as the Rural Youth Project or the recent work of Leaf Education which seek to inform and engage young people into the industry perform an important role in joining up local with global. Getting young people to think about how they can make small steps to lead sustainable change in the global food system is essential.
So what are you going to do today that takes a step towards engaging youth with the exciting prospects of working in agriculture? How are you learning from young people as you contribute towards the global food system?