Students explore feed yard job opportunities – Farm Progress

Many in agricultural found their future career paths by working alongside family members on the farm or ranch. But, how do you recruit new generations of employees to work in various farming and ranching careers, when many of them a…….

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Many in agricultural found their future career paths by working alongside family members on the farm or ranch. But, how do you recruit new generations of employees to work in various farming and ranching careers, when many of them are generations removed from the ag sector?

The Kansas Department of Agriculture is working with industry leaders in the state to offer Immersion Experience Field Days for high school students interested in agricultural careers. The first one was Nov. 3, at Ward South Feed Yard in Larned, Kan. Two more are scheduled in November that will focus on equipment and swine production.

An idea

Russell Plaschka is the manager for the KDA Ag Business Development and Workforce Program. He says the idea for these Immersion Experiences came from a need to connect high school students with industry to give an insight into the various careers open to them in agriculture.

ANIMAL HEALTH: Brittany Miller (center), with Ward Feed Yard, walks students through the steps the cowboy crew takes when a sick animal comes into the hospital ward at the Immersion Experience at Ward Feed Yard on Nov. 3.

“It’s not just a field trip, not just a guest lecture, but we wanted to get as hands-on as we can get to really show the students that these are some really awesome careers in your backyard,” he says. “They may drive by the feed yard, and they may think, ‘Well, the only jobs out there are as a feed truck driver, or as cowboys riding the pens.’ But there’s so much more that happens behind the scenes that they don’t know about.” And maybe, by giving them a glimpse of those activities, it could turn into a career for them, he adds.

Putting it together

Of course, gathering 18 students from four nearby high schools to spend a morning job-shadowing on a busy feed yard needs extra planning for safety — and to make the lessons worth the time off from school. Plaschka says they reached out to Brandon Depenbusch with Ward Feed Yard and Innovative Livestock Services, who was firmly on board. Depenbusch turned to the service providers the feed yard uses to come to the Immersion Experience, and share their career opportunities as well.

VET MED: Ryan Breiner (left), with Elanco, walks a group of students through the steps to prepare to dose a steer with animal health products. The student practiced intramuscular and subcutaneous shots on grapefruit, just like vet students start out doing.

For example, representatives from Murphy Tractor, Dodge City, Kan., brought out loader equipment and taught students to safely move feed in a silage bunker. Dodge City Kenworth representatives put students in a feed truck and had them operate it on a test track. There were stations teaching animal health care methodology in the hospital pens, feed technology and software in the conference room, nutrition and processing in the feed mill, and cattle evaluation and marketing in the pens — all hands-on, in real-world settings.

“The plan was to get the students to get the feel of what these jobs may be like,” Plaschka says.

Depenbusch says service companies are a big part of the team that supports feed yards every day, and those careers are important for students to see and experience as well.

Making time

As a former teacher, Plaschka knew that making the Immersion Experiences as hands-on as possible would attract agricultural educators.

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Source: https://www.farmprogress.com/beef/students-explore-feed-yard-job-opportunities

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