High school students will hear from agricultural business leaders during the Spokane Ag Expo and Pacific Northwest Farm Forum.
Last year marked the first time for a panel of agriculture professionals to share with students what drew them to the field. That project, developed by students at Odessa High School in partnership with Greater Spokane Inc.’s AgriBusiness Council, placed first in the nation at the Future Business Leaders of America National Leadership Conference in Anaheim, Calif., in June 2013.
“The kids worked really hard,” said Terri King, business education teacher and FBLA adviser at Odessa High School. “Any time kids can work really hard at something and be successful, boy, that’s just the best thing we can do for them. It gives them great skills and the confidence to go out in the world and follow their dreams, whatever that’s going to be.”
This year, the theme is “Growing Your Future — What You Didn’t Know about a Career in Agriculture.” The panel will begin at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 6 in Salon IV at the DoubleTree Hotel.
King said the panel furthers the goal of the agribusiness council to promote the industry throughout the region. One of the industry’s greatest needs is finding qualified employees interested in agriculture, she said, and the panel helps students to become more aware of the opportunities available after high school.
As a teacher and a mother, King hopes all students find something they’re passionate about and pursue an education to achieve that goal.
“I hope they leave becoming more aware of some opportunities that they weren’t aware of before,” she said.
The outcome of holding the business panel likely won’t become visible for several years, after students graduate or pursue college. At least eight of the 12 graduates from Odessa last year are pursuing business or agricultural careers of some sort.
“Everything you can do to expose kids to their different opportunities and choices certainly makes a difference,” she said.
This year, King plans to expand the panel beyond a business focus to address other agricultural careers, including mechanics and agronomists.
King hopes the success stories shared by the speakers will help the students realize just how capable they are of getting a college education and having a great career one day.
“Every person who spoke had a message about working hard, not giving up and what it takes to finish college,” she said. “I think that was really powerful. I don’t want them to struggle for a minimum wage job because they don’t feel like they can do anything else.”