More than 3,000 Nebraska FFA students will engage with more than 40 agricultural companies during the annual State FFA Convention Career Fair April 8.
This event will allow students to explore future career opportunities while helping to address the issues around the shortage of employees in agriculture, which includes rural Nebraska.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), agriculture industries contributed over $800 billion in U.S. gross domestic product. This is promising for FFA members in Nebraska who are prepared for careers in agriculture, food and natural resources. The USDA expects an average of 57,900 new agriculture related jobs annually between 2015 and 2020. However, only 61 percent of these jobs will be filled with graduates with expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources or the environment. The agriculture classroom, supervised agriculture experiences and the FFA student organization is helping to fill this gap by engaging students in agriculture career opportunities and career readiness skills.
Nebraska FFA industry partners Verdesian Life Sciences and Aurora Cooperative understand the value of connecting early with future potential employees.
“Our [agriculture] industry has emerged from a blue-collar dominated work force to a much more technical and science based background as we move forward,” Dave Schwartz, Verdesian Life Sciences executive vice president of sales, said. “A career in agriculture is something that will be very challenging and rewarding as they grow older and become parents themselves, and there is no better place to settle down and raise a family than a rural community.”
“I truly enjoy working in rural Nebraska. There are inherent challenges to working in rural Nebraska, such as; having to travel longer distances for certain kinds of shopping, entertainment, medical care and so on,” Dawn Caldwell, Aurora Cooperative communications manager, said. “However, I think most people would say, having neighbors a mile or two away who are always there for you, being able to enjoy the stars at night and knowing you are a part of something much bigger than yourself [contributing to the creation of food, fiber and fuel], is tremendously rewarding.”