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Message from Dorothy: 4-H and agriculture: Preparing youth for a lifetime of impact

Animals like beef and chicken are often front of mind when folks think of agriculture. And it’s true, animal production is a significant part of the agriculture industry in Minnesota and across our region.

But there is so much more to agriculture than animals alone. And every part of this broad and diverse industry is rooted in cutting edge science.

Agriculture is an incredible area for youth to learn, grow critical life skills and find an engaging career.

Agriculture is all around us

Agriculture intersects with our lives in countless ways. How we care for land and water, the ethics of how food is prepared and shared, the clothes we wear, the devices we use and even the role we play in the global economy. All of these things are directly and indirectly connected to how and what we grow and raise.

Take a look at this great tool from the American Farm Bureau Foundation for more information about all the ways agriculture surrounds every part of our lives.

Diverse and abundant careers

Did you know that 2.4 million jobs in Minnesota and our neighboring states are in the agriculture industry? That’s more than twice the total number of youth in our entire state! Agriscience jobs include farmers who raise animals and crops, but that’s just a small slice of the infinite career options youth could find and love.

  • Tony Minnechsoffer, a 4-H alum from Chisago County, spent his 40-year career as an agricultural journalist and is now a Minnesota Master Naturalist.
  • Tonya Schoenfuss is a food scientist who got her start as a 4-H’er in southern California. She’s now a dairy science professor at the University of Minnesota.
  • Tim Petersen spent 33 years as a civil engineer with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. It was as a 4-H’er in northeastern Iowa where he grew a commitment to land stewardship.

No matter what topic gets you excited, there is a place for your passion and curiosity in the ag industry. Forest management, fisheries, conservation, botany, agronomy, ecology, inspection, forensics, research and development, banking, computer programming...the opportunities are endless.

Give agriscience a try

In addition to raising animals with 4-H, I encourage every 4-H’er to try out other agriscience projects. In agriculture, there are abundant opportunities for young people to expand their learning, explore careers, connect with mentors and solve real and pressing challenges. I encourage you to join a 4-H Science of Agriculture team or design your own 4-H agriscience project. Get involved. Discover the many ways agriculture is part of your life and future!


Dorothy M. Freeman
Associate dean and state 4-H director