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Some Seek Work at World Ag Expo

Thursday, February 11, 2010

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The 43rd Annual World Ag Expo in Tulare has concluded another successful run. Aside from socializing and enjoying the exhibits, some came with a serious mission in mind.

With so much uncertainty in the industry, it's difficult to keep young people on the farm or even remotely involved in agri-business. But it's clear many weren't ready to give up on the industry.

Some came to make inroads into a career and the World Ag Expo got their wheels turning. Young people wondering which direction to take turned to the new Career and Education Center.

But who knew "rock band" was the key to unlocking your future? John Deere's video game set-up kept kids busy but 18-year-old Chatter Johnson of Porterville was interested in a job. Johnson explained, "Country boy and I want to stay within the country limits of what I like know and what I like to do so this is what's going to be best for me."

Tractor Company John Deere issues over 300 associate degrees from college tech programs every year. Project Manager Dean Meier said, "It's an industry not a lot of kids are interested anymore but it's a very needed career for those kids that maybe want to tinker with tractors and different things." posted a job board. Job seekers found much more than just farm work, sales and marketing. Erika Osmundson of said many Ag areas are in need right now. "Crop protection, seed. We're seeing a pretty steady hold on the equipment sector. Geo-spacial and bio-fuels are another two that are growing."

Solar is also on the rise. Fresno State was among the Ag schools recruiting and offering guidance. Ultimately young people will determine the future of the industry.

Recently retired Tulare County Ag Commissioner Gary Kunkel said, "We like to see the next generation coming up and taking on some of these issues and I'm encouraged by them. They're some awful sharp people and it's nice to see them out here and looking around and seeing what's available in the farming business."

Kunkel just retired after 35 years with the department. He calls the Ag industry very resilient. That was evident in this year's strong attendance in Tulare.