Farm Progress

Thoughts on agricultural exceptionalism and three tips to help next-gen farmers succeed in 2017.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

December 6, 2016

2 Min Read

Thanks to you, your “world” and mine rotate around all things agricultural. That’s a real blessing compared to the environments many grow up and work in.

After November’s election, thousands of younger people protested the election results, along with older hotheads who should have known better. While the young may not have lived long enough to develop common sense, the older ones likely won’t ever get it. As you know, wisdom doesn’t always grow with age.

LEARNING BY DOING: At early ages, young people of agriculture are immersed in work projects that teach lessons and bring accomplishments never experienced by others. Pennsylvania Farm Show photo.

Most young and older people I know are too busy working, raising families and farming to crowd city streets after dark as protesters. And most have that essential life ingredient — common sense. And we can take great pride in bright, young, aspiring people such as Delaware’s David Townsend, the new National FFA president, who really “caught the fire of exceptionalism” via FFA and 4-H. His is a story every generation will enjoy reading — check out David Townsend: A 50-year FFA first.

Growing up in an ag environment teaches most of us that not everything always goes the way you want it to. You roll with it and adapt. That’s part of succeeding in farming and in life. It has all to do with parents and 4-H and FFA leaders who demonstrate and teach the power and value of productive projects and positive mindsets.

OK, now I’ll get off my “stump” and share what I meant to share.

3 so-late-so-smart avoidance tips
Contrary to what some contend, success isn’t an end-point objective. It’s a slip-form mindset. Here are three ideas that millennials and younger agriculturists should keep in mind:

Never waste a failure. Failures and mistakes happen. But the biggest failure is failing to learn from them.

Grow your attention span. If you don’t work it, you lose it. Reading and writing skills exercise your brain and expand your creative thinking powers far more than smartphones. It’s still essential for smart ones who aim to get even smarter.

The 3X rule. Listen to your “old people.” Then get a second unbiased opinion before weighing your decisions. Much of what works (and doesn’t) has already been learned. By the same token, not all of what your elders learned will work for tomorrow’s business. And that’s what you’re building.

Bite-sized morsel
Many of our best gifts aren’t under the Christmas tree. Family and friends are far more valuable.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like