Rewards of a career (Pig Tales)
(Editor’s note: Dr. Rich Barczewski is a professor at Delaware State University.)
As I sit to write this column, I am 120 days away from my retirement.
At this stage of the game, I cannot help but think back to how things have progressed and how my career has played out.
For the first 10 years of my career, I worked in Cooperative Extension, as a county agent, then as a livestock specialist.
That part of my career began in January of 1985, which by the way was the same year when my first column appeared in this paper.
One of the greatest rewards of working in Cooperative Extension for me, was having the chance to work closely with producers.
Getting to know them, helping them solve some of the problems they faced and seeing them through the successes and failures that our industry experiences.
Another rewarding part of that section of my life was working with youth.
Both 4-H and FFA members were part of that experience and I had the chance to observe young people grow and develop into young men and women, many of whom are still part of the agricultural community.
During this time, I was also active with the Delaware State Fair, working with the sheep show and the livestock judging contest.
After 10 years in Cooperative Extension, I made a change.
Some of my friends, thought I was crazy to make the change but in hindsight, it was one of the best moves of my life, second only to marrying my wife and having my children.
It was then that I joined the faculty at Delaware State University and shortly after that I became Chairman of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Surprisingly, this experience put me even closer to young people as I had a chance to teach university courses in the animal science area.
I also was able to continue my work with the FFA as a sidebar of my position and to stay in touch with many of the producers that I had met in my first position.
Perhaps the most rewarding part of the past 35 years for me has been working with young people.
Watching them grow and learn. Seeing them develop into adults and following them as they blossom in their careers.
Some of them have gone on to obtain advanced degrees in all areas of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
Some have even obtained doctorates and are now working as faculty members in their own right.
Many of the students that I have had the opportunity to teach and advise are currently working in the agriculture sector, holding state or federal jobs or working in the agricultural industry.
Some have gone on to veterinary schools and are currently practicing.
Young people are the future of our industry and we all know that America’s farmers are aging.
We need to bring more young people into the fold to enable us to continue to feed our country and others throughout the world.
How do we do that? By encouraging them when we come in contact with them in their 4-H and FFA projects.
While I know that a young person does not have to have a 4-H or FFA background to want to work in the agricultural field, one thing that I do know and have observed is that kids in these two programs do have a strong interest in various segments of our industry, so why not cultivate it in some small way?
I will say it again: Young people are the future of our industry and I for one, feel very rewarded that I had a chance to work with them and to guide them in some small way, into opportunities that exist within our industry.
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