I had the opportunity recently to take part in the Illinois Agricultural Legislative Day, which brings more than 1,000 FFA members to the state capitol in Springfield to meet with our state senators and representatives. Students fill and deliver baskets with various items provided by state commodity groups and show the importance of agriculture to our state’s economy.
I knew agriculture was a big contributor to jobs in Illinois, but the latest information provided said more than 25 percent of the Illinois workforce is directly or indirectly related to agriculture - more than one out of every four people in the state! That easily makes agriculture our largest employer, and a sector that continues to grow. Nationwide, more than 23 million jobs are involved in some facet of agriculture, 17 percent of the civilian workforce.
As young people today are beginning to make decisions about their future, agriculture is definitely a field (no pun intended!) that should be considered.
Careers in agriculture are widely varied. Beyond the traditional view of agriculture as strictly crop or livestock farming, opportunities exist in finance, communications, law, government, sales, technology, and more. A knowledge of modern agriculture can translate into almost any career discipline.
Agriculture is one of the fastest-changing industries today, embracing cutting-edge technologies in the pursuit of sustainable food, fiber, and fuel production. High school students today will very likely be employed in careers after college that don’t even exist at the present time!
One of my favorite quotations reads: “Once in your life, you will need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, and a preacher. But every day, three times, a day, you need a farmer.” I would add that you also need all of the people who support the farmers in myriad ways. Agriculture is vitally important to each and every one of us, and for a young person looking for a stable, interesting, and fulfilling career, choosing agriculture is the way to go!