I think we can all remember what it’s like to be unsure of what lies ahead in our careers. Childhood dreams of being a superhero or astronaut fade away and you’re left with reality. There are seemingly endless options of what to do or where to go. I found myself here, at Land O’Lakes, Inc., putting my experience of being raised on a small Wisconsin farm to work every day.
But getting into agriculture as a career doesn’t mean you had to have grown up on a farm. In fact, the industry is encouraging just the opposite.
I had the chance to follow along as 10 young leaders discovered this for themselves. As part of the Land O’Lakes Global Food Challenge Emerging Leaders for Food Security™ fellowship, these students set out on a once-in-a-lifetime experience to learn about hunger, sustainability and agriculture.
Along the way, they met Victor Kipkorir, a tomato farmer in Kenya, Neal Beam, a crop grower in Kansas, and many more. The students will tell you each person had an inspiring story. Actually, l will let them tell you themselves.
Safe, nutritious food. It should be a basic human right, but that’s not always a reality. And with the global population growing to more than 9 billion by 2050, achieving food security will only get more difficult. Adding to the challenge, there are more agriculture jobs than new professionals to fill them. You see although our industry is growing, the career opportunities are not always well-understood. I’m sure this is something to which many an intern can attest.
Unless you’ve had personal experience telling you otherwise, you might assume working in agriculture means working in fields or on farms. There is quite a bit of that, to be sure. But there is also a place for the engineers, the computer wizards, the marketing mavens and, in my case, the writers of the world.
Established in 2014, the Global Food Challenge fellowship is one of the many ways Land O’Lakes is tackling this critical issue. This past year, the students joined our team from five universities and a wide-range of majors—from agronomy and environmental science to nutrition and finance. It was a year-long crash course in all things ag. Each student has been inspired to continue the search for food security solutions as they head back to campus.
There is yet another challenge ahead for this most recent crop of emerging leaders—inspiring others to find their own place in agriculture. They’ll do this by sharing what they’ve learned. Good thing, too, because sophomores are already applying for the 2016-2017 fellowship.
And for those of you up to the global food challenge, Land O’Lakes is always looking for people who want to make a difference.