State Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding highlighted jobs in agriculture and the programs that will prepare students for them today at Pequea Valley High School in Kinzers.
“It’s not a surprise that Pennsylvania has the highest percentage of agricultural producers under 35 years old in the nation,” said Redding. “You can’t feed the world without first nourishing young minds. That starts with solid agriculture education that inspires students to apply their interests in a field that has plentiful opportunities for meaningful, rewarding careers, then connecting them with those opportunities through hands-on experiences in the classroom and in learn-while-you-earn apprenticeships.”
Redding toured Pequea Valley’s hands-on, award-winning program with classes in ag mechanics, animal science, plant science, food science, and environmental science.
His tour also took him to farms in Lancaster and Chester counties.
At Birchrun Hill Farm in Chester Springs, Redding saw a demonstration of sustainable crop production and innovative processing supported by training through AgConnect Industry Partnerships.
The last stop on the tour was Joel Meyers’ Farm in Elizabethtown, a family-owned swine farm that receives management and animal health training through a partnership with AgVentures and Penn State Extension’s Animal Care Apprenticeship Program.
Both farms highlight the technical and scientific aspects of careers in farm management and food production.
Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry fuels more than 593,000 jobs across the commonwealth, paying nearly $33 billion in wages each year, according to the Dept. of Agriculture.
As the industry innovates, and current workers retire, new opportunities are continually available, with jobs ranging from farm managers to high-tech equipment mechanics, and from field biologists to entomologists to veterinarians. All must be equipped to adapt to changing consumer needs, new technology, and climate challenges, the department said.
Through the Commission for Agriculture Education Excellence, the Pennsylvania departments of Agriculture and Education have produced a comprehensive agricultural education report for schools across the commonwealth.
In coordination with those departments, the 15-member commission is charged with developing a statewide plan for agricultural education.