Pete Curran

Today, our youngest residents are said to be 3-4 generations removed from a farm. So is that why we have a labor shortage in agriculture, less awareness of farm practices necessary in a changing global climate and maybe even misperceptions of farmers’ intent when it comes to concerns about water quality and herbicide use?


As a 56-year old, with only two years experience in the $88 billion agriculture industry in Wisconsin, I volunteered to be a member of the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days committee for the purpose of networking and building my business as a seed rep.

My mom grew up on a small potato farm in Antigo. It was inactive since my grandpa died in 1962, the year I was born. While I’m closer to a farm than many, I still didn’t get exposure to the vast career opportunities in ag.

My dad worked two jobs when he was 18 years old. Raising two kids by the age of 20 and eventually there were four of us. I grew up wanting nothing to do with his ‘blue collar’ history. I was the second one in our family who went to college, I went into advertising dreaming that I was going to live in New York City. Ended up in advertising in Chicago for 7 years. Loved it. And I learned a lot about positioning messages to consumers to get them to ‘act’ this way or that for the benefit of selling products for consumer companies.

Now I’m more of a storyteller. I enjoy taking photos of farm buildings, farmers and then prodding them for a story that I share on my Facebook page, ‘When I listened to a farmer.’

This year it’s no surprise to any of us, the number of exhibitors and donations for the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days show are down. Given that, we are trying to position the show as a necessary ‘celebration of Wisconsin Ag,’ for the future health of its economic engine.

It was this mindset, that created the first-ever Ag Career Day and Career Scavenger Hunt at the show on July 23. While we have invited 1,000 students and have 20 Cheesehead Express buses in 10 locations in the state, only 230 students have signed up to attend this free trip.

Non of us owe nothing to nobody. Yet, we do have an opportunity to share our enthusiasm for the state we know as America’s Dairyland, where foam Cheeseheads – like it or not – are a symbol shown on TV events which usually are meant to demonstrate our ‘wild enthusiasm for cheese and all-things Wisconsin!

The ‘giant Ag Career Day pencil’ hoisted in triumph is our way to show attendees and students to our 65th Farm Tech Days show that we too, are wildly enthusiastic about showing young people there are many ways to become a part of our vast industry that feeds the world while it feeds the souls of those who toil in it!

So, if you’d like to be a part of this story please add to it. Please start by sharing the story of Ag Career Day with one person. And ask them to do the same. Most things start with a small group of people. And when the enthusiasm tends to grow more people tend to hear about it!

No doubt you see the opportunity for us if we could get that number up to even 500 students. Please help us ask a current FFA, 4-H or SkillsUSA student member to invite a buddy to join them in a discovery journey that may help them find their future. Their passion.

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