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May 25, 2016
The high school graduation season is wrapping up with 12-grade pigskins in hands, and young graduates believing the world is at their fingertips which it is.
My grandson was among those in May who shifted the high school graduation mortarboard tassel from one side to the other; a scene repeated across the country in this symbolic achievement of educational advancement.
He graduated from a high school in a mostly rural town in the Upper Midwest where agriculture is likely the top economic contributor to the local economy.
As a prelude to the ceremony, a PowerPoint presentation showed each of the 149 graduates first in a baby picture, followed by photos of the young men and woman of age as diploma-worthy graduates.
The PowerPoint included one young man standing on a farm – all ‘dressed-up’ in blue jeans, a t-shirt, and a green John Deere hat. The later was probably worn not only to keep the sun out of his eyes but to boast about his rural heritage and his dreams to carry on his family’s proud agricultural roots.
A picture of a young lady on the brim of graduation showed her dressed in ‘rural fatigues’ - jeans and a red-and-black flannel checkered shirt –posing for the camera in front of a corn field ready for harvest. What an interesting backdrop for this young woman ready for the next chapter in her life’s journey.
It’s true as this young man and woman might attest that rural America has a bright future for young people as future farmers, agricultural scientists, and other rural vocations.
Another portion of the program included school staff announcing the graduating class’ scholarship recipients. In addition to scholarships doled out to students excelling in math and science, just as many scholarships were pledged for students primed to enter the agricultural field.
I was impressed by the scholarship amounts which ranged from $500 to $3,000 in value. The rural scholarships were named after long-standing farming families in the community.
It’s been more than a decade (okay add several more to that) since I graduated from high school – a small class of 13 graduates (no typo here). Back in the ‘old days,’ there were no scholarships or PowerPoints; much less a computer or the internet.
Yet this graduation ceremony, as others held around the country, contained the same ceremony and fuss held for generations, if not centuries.
To those high school seniors who graduated this spring, a hearty congratulations to you and your families.
You are our future. May God bless each of you along your life’s journey!
Editor, Western Farm Press
Cary Blake, associate editor with Western Farm Press, has 32 years experience as an agricultural journalist. Blake covered Midwest agriculture for 25 years on a statewide farm radio network and through television stories that blanketed the nation.
Blake traveled West in 2003. Today he reports on production agriculture in California and Arizona.
Blake is a native Mississippian, graduate of Mississippi State University, and a former Christmas tree grower.
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