Introducing students to potential careers in agriculture is the goal of two major projects made possible by the Ohio Farm Bureau Foundation’s Fisher Fund for Lifelong Learning. The goal is to introduce students to and prepare them for careers in agriculture, food and natural resources.
The Fisher Fund was created last year to honor John C. “Jack” Fisher, who retired after serving 20 years as Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s executive vice president. The fund’s goal is to support educational projects and programs that build a greater awareness of food production and knowledge of the interconnected food system.
The Fisher Fund’s signature project is the ExploreAg program, which will be launched this summer. Fifty high school freshmen and sophomores will be chosen through a competitive process to spend two weeks on a college campus for an introduction to agriculture as well as hands-on learning. Internationally known teachers, scientists and researchers will expose them to food science, precision agriculture, animal science, natural resources, management skills, technology and agricultural business. Along with classroom experience, the students will participate in field experiences that highlight cutting-edge research and will interact with industry partners to learn about possible careers in related fields.
The first year of the program will take place on Ohio State University’s main campus and at its Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster and is completely free for students. The foundation has committed $125,000 for the first two years of the program.
The second program, Youth Pathways to Careers in Agriculture, supports projects that introduce and train students for high-demand jobs in the food, agricultural or natural resources industries. The program is open to nonprofit organizations or those with a fiscal sponsor. The foundation is accepting applications for the program Jan. 1 to March 20. The foundation has committed $100,000 in funding in 2018.
“We believe Farm Bureau can serve as a significant catalyst to attract young people to careers in our industry. These projects will also result in county Farm Bureaus, agribusinesses, higher education and youth-serving education institutions to better share the story of modern agriculture. Working together we can inspire the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs to become problem solvers and leaders in agriculture,” said Ohio Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Adam Sharp, who announced these new programs during Farm Bureau’s 99th annual meeting in December.