During the North Central Ohio Dairy Grazing Conference — held the last week of January in Dalton — I had the pleasure of hearing five youth talk about their experiences growing up on the farm.

We’ve already written and published an article about the event, but I must say, watching the youth panel is something that will stick with me for some time.

The young men ranged in age from 16-21 and they had all grown up working on their father’s farm, or a local farm. I was very amused at the way they talked about farm life and what farming means to them.

It seemed that each of the “boys,” as the moderator called them, intended to take over their dad’s farm, or if not that, then to look for work on another farm. It is really encouraging to see young people list farming as their dream job, and be serious about that dream.

Mostly, I think I was encouraged at the honesty with which the “boys” answered questions. Several of them were either Amish or Mennonite and they were asked whether they got paid for working on the farm.

Different answers

Some earned a salary, while others were paid by having their living needs met and an occasional gift along the way.

One said he didn’t get paid outright, but received a shotgun when he graduated, a new bicycle at 15 and “a designated amount in the savings account at 16.”

In a world where so many kids want a weekly allowance, or a cell phone or an iPad, it was encouraging to hear this young man be happy with a “shotgun” and a “bicycle.”

When they were asked about the greatest challenge to becoming a farmer, they hit the nail on the head by saying the price of land, and the fact that farming is no eight-to-five job.

Their favorite thing on the farm? Well, it depended on who you asked, but it included hauling manure, filling silo, field work and working with animals.

Honest answers

These young people were passionate about farming and it showed. At times, their answers were so honest they almost were humorous.

When asked how they convinced their father to buy a new piece of farm equipment, the popular answer was to get him to use it. If Dad used the old piece of equipment himself, they said he would understand why it needed replaced.

I’ve been to a lot of farm conferences where passing on the farm to the next generation is a topic, but this is one of the first where I got to hear from that next generation. It was nice to hear things from the youth perspective, and as these five showed, we have some very bright farm youth who are keenly aware of the joys and challenges of farming.

Chris Kick lives in Wooster, Ohio. An American FFA Degree recipient, he holds a bachelor’s in creative writing from Ashland University. He spends his free time on his grandparents’ farms in Wayne and Holmes counties.
Chris Kick
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