Today’s youth will be the agricultural leaders of tomorrow. The pork industry realizes the importance of providing both educational opportunities and resources for students that have an interest in pursuing a career in agriculture. Here are just a few examples of how the pork industry has invested in developing these future leaders:
There are many scholarship opportunities through various pork industry groups, at both the national and state levels, like the National Junior Swine Association (NJSA), National Pork Board, National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) and state pork associations. Most scholarship applications require that the student has an interest in pursuing a degree in swine production and has had previous experience within the pork industry. There are scholarships available for both undergraduate and graduate students.
The National Pork Board and some state pork associations offer swine curriculum for elementary to high school aged students. These vary from pig coloring sheets and fact cards for the younger aged students to in-depth animal science materials for high school aged groups. You can contact the National Pork Board or any state pork association directly for these materials. Most of them are free of cost to educators and students.
The Pork Checkoff also offers a program called Youth PQA Plus®, which is a food safety, antibiotic use, and animal well-being awareness and education program for youth pork producers ages eight to 19. Youth PQA Plus mirrors the content of the industry’s adult program Pork Quality Assurance® Plus (PQA Plus®), but presents it in a format conducive to youth learning.
Along with Youth PQA Plus, the Pork Checkoff supports a number of programs to benefit youth in agriculture. These include major sponsorships with the National Junior Swine Association, Team Purebred, Agriculture Future of America’s annual leadership conference and the National FFA Convention.
Fact sheets offering guidance for show pig biosecurity and other topics are offered at pork.org. The Checkoff also assists state pork associations with cost-share opportunities for youth activities and supports the youth advocate group for the Checkoff’s Real Pig Farming social media campaign.
Many high school students who enjoy showing pigs do so through programs like FFA, 4-H and NJSA. Showing pigs is a great opportunity for youth to learn showmanship skills, leadership and communication skills, responsibility, bookkeeping, nutrition management, etc. Pig shows give youth an opportunity to get a hands-on learning experience with pigs and learn to develop a strong work ethic. Students also get a chance to learn how to take constructive criticism, learn adversity and how to overcome challenges. Swine shows also provide a great platform for youth to speak up for agriculture through social media.
State Pork Associations
Many state pork associations hold youth-related events like farm tours, educational workshops, pork queen and ambassador contests, and sponsor swine shows.
As the pork industry continues to evolve, the Pork Checkoff recognizes the need to focus on the future by finding and educating young talent that will take the helm as tomorrow’s leaders on committees, boards and other leadership positions. Keeping our industry relevant and educating our consumers is a top priority. The development of our future leaders is a critical next step to keep the industry moving forward while providing the next generation of pig farmers with the skills and expertise needed to advocate for our ever-changing industry.