A baby boomer in one of my producer meetings south of the Twin Cities, MN, asked, “Should my daughter study agriculture?” Observation of the 300+ audience at AgStar Financial Services’ Winter Grain Outlook meeting found a sprinkle of youth with their parents and grandparents. As an educator, this was the perfect platform to provide my opinion, although it may be somewhat biased.

My answer was a resounding “Yes.” Let me explain. First, the agricultural industry has a wide and important footprint in the U.S. and global economy. Agriculture is an industry that produces tangible products including food, fiber and fuel. In the future, the industry’s footprint will be much broader with more products and services for the life sciences, as well. As people become more removed and disconnected from farms and ranches, businesses will be developed to facilitate life experiences with agriculture.

A young person’s education can come in a variety of ways. Community college is a less expensive avenue to launch the educational experience rather than attending a university. I suggest selecting the teacher rather than the course. An empowered professor can result in an enriching and sometimes even life-changing experience. Study a combination of business, biology and communication along with other courses. Seek colleges and universities that offer flexible internship experiences in the U.S. and abroad.

Regardless of education, some younger people are directly involved in production agriculture, while others prefer a combination of off-farm employment and production agriculture. Others are employed in agribusinesses that support production agriculture. Many young people share with me that they enjoy working with the agricultural community regardless of profession. Yes, agriculture can be a rewarding career and lifestyle, as well.

Editor’s note: Dave Kohl, Corn & Soybean Digest trends editor, is an ag economist specializing in business management and ag finance. He recently retired from Virginia Tech, but continues to conduct applied research and travel extensively in the U.S. and Canada, teaching ag and banking seminars and speaking to producer and agribusiness groups. He can be reached at sullylab@vt.edu.