The local ag instructor has a high school student he wants us to hire for the summer. The boy will be a senior and has no farm experience but seems like a dependable kid. We need someone to do odd jobs and mow barn lots. Is it worth a chance? What should we pay him?
The Profit Planners panel answering this question includes: David Erickson, farmer, Altona, Ill.; Mark Evans, Purdue University Extension educator, Putnam County, Ind.; Jim Luzar, landowner and retired Purdue Extension educator, Greencastle, Ind.; and Steve Myers, farm manager, Busey Ag Resources, LeRoy, Ill.
Erickson: We all had to get our first work experience somewhere, so why not give this young man a chance? Start him out with jobs that you can work together and see his work ethic while giving him needed instruction. Slowly work him into other tasks that do not need supervision and see how he performs. I would encourage you to start him out at minimum wage, and then you can always increase his compensation based on improved performance.
Evans: If you’re willing to teach and have some patience, it’s certainly worth it. The key word provided that is too often missing in adults as well is “dependable.” Don’t forget to teach and adopt safety! No one wants to have a disaster, and remember, the lack of experience is important for safety. If you don’t have proper safety applications on equipment or facilities, keep the youth away or don’t allow him to use it. Always reiterate — if he doesn’t understand something, he should ask! Make sure there aren’t penalties for questions or a culture of poking fun at ignorance.
Pay would seem to be based on the area and what skills are used. If there is lack of ag knowledge but good equipment knowledge for driving, etc., then that is worth more money. You could start out and provide incentives with raises based on continued dependability and continued growth. If fast food and retail pay $8 to $10 locally, that would seem appropriate for a starting point to attract and keep a person.
Luzar: Some farm businesses provide a work experience as part of their commitment to local community, helping youth to be good employees wherever they venture. This could be a great opportunity to help develop the skill set of a young person and maybe help them explore a career in agriculture. Your county highway department may provide a proxy for entry level wage. Local chamber of commerce or economic development offices may provide wage guidance.
You will have to make a commitment to making this a growth experience for this senior. Training someone about work skills is more than just summer help supervision; it takes the patience and skill of a teacher.
Myers: It is always worth the chance to help young people learn and gain experiences, so yes. This can be a great opportunity for both parties, as I hope you find satisfaction in passing along your knowledge. I suggest starting him at minimum wage, and if you find additional value, you can quickly adjust his wage upward. Remember the wage is just like the tasks — start small and adjust with competency. Don’t forget to consider what your insurance policy may say about hired labor.