More than 200 high school students spent the day at the Indiana State Fair learning about careers in agriculture. Their visit was part of Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch’s Diversity in Ag Day program, which was created last year to give students, who have had little exposure to agriculture, a chance to learn about the industry and explore different career opportunities.
“We wanted these students to know that you don’t have to grow up on a farm to work in agriculture,” Crouch said. “There are so many careers to choose from—good paying, high-tech jobs—and what better place to learn about those than the great Indiana State Fair?”
The students started their day touring several locations around the fairgrounds including the Indiana FFA Pavilion, Normandy Barn, Animal Town, Agriculture/Horticulture building and the Department of Natural Resources building. At each stop, they were met by agricultural representatives, who covered different topics ranging from food production to animal care to entrepreneurship.
Indiana State Department of Agriculture Director Bruce Kettler, who welcomed the students to the Indiana Farm Bureau building, spoke about his diverse background in agriculture, hoping to plant the seed about some of the options available to them.
“Whether you work on the production side or in the lab, you never know where a career in agriculture might take you. The possibilities are endless,” Kettler said. “My hope is that in the future someone from this group will be standing where I am now, encouraging the next generation of agriculture leaders in the state.”
Following the tour, the students ate lunch and were taught how to make salsa using Indiana Grown products, provided by Eskenazi Health and Piazza Produce. Afterwards, they participated in a career discussion, led by Myron McClure, Assistant Director of Multicultural Programs at Purdue, and heard from Lt. Gov. Crouch, Dr. Karen Plaut, Glenn W. Sample Dean of Agriculture at Purdue, and Glenn Morris, a Gibson County farmer and Indiana State Fair’s first African-American Featured Farmer.
The group concluded their visit to the fairgrounds by touring the Glass Barn and playing Bean Go.
“In urban areas, particularly, agriculture often falls by the wayside when career discussions are taking place,” Crouch said. “This is something we want to change and hope that today’s experience will inspire these students to think about pursuing a career in this field.”
The Diversity in Ag Day program is a partnership between the Lt. Governor’s office and Indiana State Fair, in conjunction with universities, government agencies and industry organizations. The schools that participated this year include: Arsenal Tech High School, Evansville Boys and Girls Club, Southport High School, Perry Meridian High School, Batesville High School and Christel House Academy.