I was recently reminded of a quote by Theodore Roosevelt. Our former president once said, “I do not believe there was ever a life more attractive than life on a cattle farm.”
I think Teddy had it right. Growing up on a ranch instilled in me a hard work ethic, a strong set of core values and a respect for the land, the animals and the tradition of working with both in an honest day’s work to feed my family.
Whether or not kids who grew up on a farm or ranch return to production agriculture or not, these skills are carried on into their adult lives. These values are what make youth in agriculture the most sought after segment by employers.
After attending a beef ambassador contest and listening to the speeches of the young people, BEEF columnist Troy Marshall talked about the importance of parents being strong role models to ensure youth in agriculture grow up to be adults with integrity.
“As an industry, parents and mentors, we have to be very cognizant to ensure that the junior livestock programs don’t paint us in a negative light, due to a few individuals who are willing to push limits on food safety and animal welfare guidelines in order to win. As a whole, however, I don’t believe there are many youth programs that do more for kids than junior livestock programs,” he said. “Obesity, drugs, declining morals, and a lack of understanding of the values that made this country great tend to not be problems with the youth in rural America. And I’ve come to believe that, while agriculture is busy feeding the world’s growing population, our industry’s greatest contribution may be in creating the solid leaders of tomorrow.”
Although your primary crops might be hay and cattle, remember that kids are also a product of your farm or ranch. Invest in these young people. Give them responsibility. Teach them more than just the basics. Show them how to figure a feed ration or fix broken machinery. Encourage them to invest in cattle and watch their savings grow. Today’s young people are tomorrow’s leaders, and I’m keen to remember that as I work with my younger sisters. Their future, and the future of all farm kids, will be stronger because of the lessons they learn on the ranch today.