It’s What It’s All AboutWritten by Dennis Sun
Published: 30 January 2015
For most of Wyoming, this summer we’ve had it pretty good, with not much to complain about except summer is going by too quickly. Here it is, almost State Fair time, and I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking it should be about the Fourth of July. Where has summer gone?
We get numerous pictures of brandings, sheep shearings and other events from you here at the Roundup, and we really appreciate them. Even looking on Facebook, we see lots of pictures of brandings and moving cattle or sheep. The one constant we always see in the group of pictures is either dogs or kids, but mostly kids.
A while back, we were branding, and I made the comment that there were lots of kids running around. Someone else, a Grandpa, said, “That’s what it’s all about.” I’ve been thinking about those words a lot lately and agree totally with the statement. We’ve always heard the statement, “It’s really not my farm or ranch. I’m just taking care of it until the kids or grandkids take over, and I want to make sure it’s in better condition than when I took over.” Kids, of course, is a relative term. Some are called kids until they are in their 60s or until their parents pass on. But either way, it’s pretty good being a kid in agriculture right now.
I’m hearing and seeing it more and more – young people coming back to the farm or ranch and more young people getting into agriculture.
One of the reasons is that there are more jobs in agriculture these days. Youth today are more interested in agriculture, and it’s showing up at our university. At the University of Wyoming, the range management program is the largest in the country. I suppose the reclamation aspect of the program is a big part of that, but it is a big part of Wyoming, and we are proud of it. If you are looking for scholarships, the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources awards more scholarships than any of the other schools at the University of Wyoming, so that tells us of the committed support the college gets from the people and businesses of the state. And don’t forget the great two-year colleges here in the state with their agriculture classes. As ag people, we are proud of all of them.
There are all these statistics about how old those in agriculture are these days, and for the most part, we can’t argue with the figures. But where are the numbers for the youth coming back to agriculture? I think they are growing. Just look around the State Fair and see all the youth who are in the livestock business.
Organizations like the Wyoming Stock Growers Association and the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust are developing programs to help youth get back or stay in agriculture. The inflated cost of land is a tough hurdle for youth to overcome, and leasing land is a choice, along with using programs of some financial lending institutions.
Agriculture in Wyoming needs young people and the schools and programs that help them with life. All they need is just a chance to prove themselves. The future of agriculture is with those youth.