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January 25, 2024
by Tanner Weakley
My beloved dog, Bandit, and I thoroughly enjoy hiking. Among the various state parks we’ve explored, Turkey Run holds a special place in our hearts due to its extensive assortment of trails and pathways. The act of selecting a trail during a hiking expedition reminds me of choosing a career pathway.
This year has been a voyage of discovery for me. I’ve had the opportunity to uncover numerous career pathways that consistently ignite my contemplations about my future profession. In December, my teammates and I visited over 20 businesses and industries, discovering diverse careers and opportunities within agriculture.
Throughout high school, I often felt pressure to select a career without having the chance to explore beyond commonly known options such as nursing, engineering, mechanics, firefighting, police work or teaching. I quickly settled on becoming a veterinarian, considering my unwavering passion for livestock and the fact that I have my own animals. Becoming a veterinarian was the most logical path for me.
Frequently, students are expected to determine their career path before graduating from high school. While setting goals is crucial, this decision can be exceedingly challenging for young adults. Without the ability to explore a wide range of career possibilities, I perceive it as a missed opportunity for young people.
During our visits to electrical cooperatives, seed producers, animal health businesses and a meat processing plant, we dove into a vast array of careers within agriculture. It was captivating to discover that plant scientists can modify genetics to enhance crop yields. This was something that had never crossed my mind before!
The 24 businesses and industries we visited not only provided valuable networking opportunities, but also exposed us to a multitude of career options. The most significant lesson I learned was the importance of maintaining an open mind and not confining oneself to a singular path.
The conversations I’ve engaged in with different individuals about diverse career paths remind me of considering which trail to take when hiking with my dog. Now, my career aspirations extend beyond just one profession.
I am considering multiple possibilities, including becoming a veterinarian, working in agricultural sales, specializing in animal nutrition or pursuing a career as an agriculture teacher. As I prepare for my journey at Oklahoma State University, I will constantly remind myself to maintain an open mind and embrace every opportunity.
Weakley is the 2023-24 Indiana FFA sentinel.
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