By Steve White, Grand Island Bureau Chief - bio | email
Have Nebraskans grown illiterate on a subject many assume we understand? Some of the state's best and brightest young people think so.
Now they're learning how to speak up about where our food comes from.
"How to do a radio interview, how to do a TV interview," Mat Habrock of the Nebraska Corn Growers told students.
It wasn't a class of future broadcasters, but future scientists, teachers, and yes, farmers from every corner of Nebraska, from Wallace to Waverly and beyond.
35 kids took part in the Ag Issues Academy, a select group of FFA students chosen to dig into hot button issues like "pink slime", hog confinement, child labor, and much more.
Morgan Kowalewski of Gothenburg narrows it all down to one overarching issue.
"I chose ag literacy and consumer education," she said.
These kids say farmers and ranchers have often failed to share their message.
Morgan said, "I think definitely farmers need to take a stand and voice their opinion, also educate, not only people outside the community but people in their community."
They give an ear to listen, and a voice to respond.
Taylor Nielson of Wallace raises corn and hay with his family, along with their cow-calf operation.
He said the day-long training at the State FFA Convention in Lincoln was beneficial.
"It's teaching me to heal relationships between consumers and producers and just avoid all the obstacles," he said.
These kids come from different backgrounds. Some are city kids and others have grown up on the farm.
But they say the challenges are universal.
Mattie McCabe of O'Neill said, "In livestock or crops, you know if you're in a drought you're all struggling. You share common ground."
Now they look for common ground with consumers.
Kowalewski, of Gothenburg said, "You need to focus on people in big cities but also you need to focus locally too, so that way you can make sure everyone's getting the right story and that way they can go and start the snowball effect and tell everyone."
If you know an outstanding young person involved in agriculture, tell NTV. Send an email firstname.lastname@example.org explaining why that student should be honored as Farm Youth of the Month.