Vernon Parish Cattlemen’s Association hosts Youth Farm Day
VERNON PARISH, La. (KALB) - The average farmer age in the United States is around age 60, a concerning statistic for an agriculture-driven country and community in Central Louisiana. That is why the Vernon Parish Cattlemen’s Association (VPCA) is recruiting the next generation of farmers by hosting its Youth Farm Day at the Porter and Son’s Ranch in Leesville.
Those students learned about farm safety, animal health, beef quality assurance, agriculture careers and farm programs from the LSU Ag Center, McNeese State University, Louisiana Wildlife and Forestry and the Louisiana Farm Bureau.
“It’s just a really good time for our students to get out of the classroom and see what else goes on in Vernon Parish,” said Bryan Churchman, vice president of the VPCA.
150 juniors and seniors from the nine high schools in Vernon Parish traveled to different booths around the farm to explore career opportunities in this field. It is an opportunity for those students to learn more about the Louisiana farming landscape.
“I feel like it’s important for not just me but for other students because it allows us to understand more about how farmers and other people in agriculture help our economy in our state and also the livelihood of many other families,” said Jayda James, senior at Hornbeck High School.
“I feel like there’s not that many people that are interested in Ag, and the industry is kind of going down. So, it’s good to bring awareness to that and bring more people into this industry,” said Morgan Smith, a freshman at McNeese State and a former Vernon Parish student who went through Youth Farm Day twice.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. had 321,261 young producers in 2017, which is categorized as farmers 35 or younger, and accounts for only nine percent of the country’s 3.4 million producers. But with support from the Vernon Parish School Board (VPSB), the number of producers can increase by having this farm day and help support the backbone of this country.
“We see fewer and fewer every year so anything we can do to encourage these students to go into some kind of vocational – agriculture, forestry, veterinary science – anything we can do to help our students because that is our role, to help our students for a better future, and that makes a better future for all of us when we have these students in these vocational fields,” said Connie Britt, vocational supervisor at the Vernon Parish School Board.
VPSB has been in full support of this event, and this will benefit the students in the future.
“They want to see young people out, they want to see them learning different things, what it takes to be a productive citizen right here in Vernon Parish, Louisiana,” Churchman said. “Our cattlemen’s association works hard at that. We sponsor, I think this year we have 11 $500 scholarships to students going to not just universities, but to technical schools as well. We like to put our money where our mouth is.”
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