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Foundation Watch: Donations help recruit the next generation of dairy leaders

Contributed by Deb Reinhart Published on 18 April 2017

See A Need

“I don’t want to be a dairy farmer.” These are not the words dairy farmers want to hear from their children.

“We have spent a lifetime building our dairy business, and now we do not know who we will pass it on to.” These sentiments ripple across the dairy community.

Concern about where the next generation of dairy farmers, veterinarians, nutritionists, agricultural lenders, accountants and other agricultural partners will come from has made us realize how important it is to recruit the next generation of the dairy community.

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Altoona-Blair County Agriculture Career Day

Last year, your donations supported an Agriculture Career Day hosted by Altoona-Blair County Development Corporation in north-central Pennsylvania.

Altoona-Blair County Agriculture Career Day

The career fair was open to seventh-graders in Blair County public schools. More than 1,200 students toured Kulp Family Dairy Farm near Martinsburg. They visited 16 work stations and heard from dairy farmers, veterinarians, agronomists, technicians and others about day-to-day jobs and the skills and training needed for those jobs.

The Altoona-Blair dairy community realize how important it is to recruit the next generation of farmers and recognizes the economic impact farming has to the region.

The ABCDC Agricultural Committee is comprised of individuals who are passionate about the next generation of agriculture workers and identified a hands-on opportunity for students as the best way to spark interest at a critical age for career opportunities.

“There are a lot of people who don’t realize how important agriculture is to Blair County, Pennsylvania. There are opportunities for lucrative careers, but we do not do a good job sending that message to young people about the careers available in agriculture and that it is a very successful business that can offer multiple career options,” shared Dave Hileman of Hilecrest Farms in Sinking Valley, an ABCD Corporation agriculture committee member.

PDPW Youth Leadership Derby

Another successful program has been the PDPW Youth Leadership Derby. This hands-on, two-day lock-in type educational experience recruits for dairy careers among teens, ages 15 to 18 years old. Eight hundred Wisconsin youth have benefited from the Derby since it began in 2004.

Youth leadership derby

YLD participants have the opportunity to explore agriculture careers, tour progressive dairy farms, explore science alongside veterinarians and develop leadership skills. They have fun and share experiences with other young people who share similar interests. This year the program will be held April 22-23, 2017, at Colby High School in Colby, Wisconsin.

The Professional Dairy Producers Foundation funds educational programs and initiatives that have the best interest of dairy producers as its focus, from youth through retirement. It supports a legacy of learning for the dairy industry.

Part of that legacy is educating the younger generation about the opportunities agriculture offers and how food is produced. Your donations inspire dreams and fund programs that spark interest in ag-related careers in the communities that are home to our dairy farms, plants and retailers.

Dr. Jay Bailey DVM, demonstrating best practices

The intriguing part of these programs is that they are grassroots ideas that took shape because the dairy community saw a need and decided they could fill that need by being proactive. Programs or events like these two could take root anywhere across the dairy community.

PDPF grants out “seed money” to programs like these that perhaps would not see the light of day without a little start-up funding. The next generation of dairy is out there, dreaming about farming and looking for support to make their dream come true. Our job is to inspire future generations, guide them and grow along with them.  end mark

The following update is provided by the Professional Dairy Producers Foundation, which raises funds nationwide and awards grants and sponsorships for educational programs and initiatives that benefit the U.S. dairy community. PDPF is committed to uniting the dairy community on issues of common concern to achieve its vision of a professional, proactive and prepared dairy community.

Did you know?

The Professional Dairy Producers Foundation awards grants to non-profit organizations who share the foundation’s passion and vision for education in dairy communities. Grant dollars are available to those organizations with unique ideas in the following two focus areas: 1) Building producer professionalism or 2) Maintaining public trust.

The next granting period is ongoing with grant applications due June 1, 2017. Organizations may apply for grants of up to $5,000. For more information, visit Professional Dairy Producers Foundation.

PHOTO 1: Altoona-Blair County Agriculture Career Day.

PHOTO 2: Participants at Youth Leadership Derby (YLD) 2016 in Brillion, Wisconsin.

PHOTO 3: Dr. Jay Bailey, DVM, demonstrating best practices at Youth Leadership Derby 2016 in Brillion, Wisconsin. Courtesy photos.

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