What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Posted: December 14, 2018

FFA members explore several agricultural careers

During the Career Day in November, keynote speaker Katie Pratt asked participants to answer the age-old question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

Then she took it further by challenging the students to ponder how they would answer the question without naming a profession. Knowing that you want to be “kind,” “happy,” or “always learning” as an adult are as important as striving for a specific career, she emphasized.

The annual, day-long event was designed to highlight a wide variety of agricultural careers and college opportunities. During the morning, small groups of participants rotated through six, 10-minute college and career presentations and three, 20-minute “innovator” sessions.

Career Day presenter Katie Pratt challenges students to sequence the steps from farm to consumer and identify career opportunities along the way.

College and career presenters were on hand from Joliet Junior College, Kishwaukee College, Bethany Animal Hospital, NIU Department of Biological Sciences, and DeKalb County Farm Bureau. “Innovator” session leaders were Marshall Dirks of Proven Winners; drone specialist Bob Myers; and Katie Pratt, farmer, ag literacy coordinator, and one of the former Faces of Farming & Ranching with the U.S. Farmers and Ranchers Alliance.

Following lunch and Pratt’s keynote address, participants boarded buses for two afternoon tours. One stop was Andy and Sarah Lenkaitis’ dairy farm near St. Charles. There, students discovered the registered Holstein herd is housed in a comfortable, state-of-the-art freestall barn and milked using robotic milking machines.

High school students and teachers tour the new dairy barn at Lenkaitis Holsteins. The high-tech facility is engineered to maximize cow comfort and health.

Tate & Lyle Custom Ingredients in Sycamore was the other tour site. During this stop, participants learned how the company develops and supplies ingredient mixes for dairy foods like flavored milk and ice cream.

The Career Day was organized by the DeKalb Area Agricultural Heritage Association (DAAHA) and DeKalb County Farm Bureau with a grant from the Monsanto Fund. Ninety-three FFA members and 11
ag teachers representing ten area high schools participated this year.

Students learned first-hand that the agriculture industry offers many opportunities to be whatever they want to be.