Youth Ag Programs Shape Future Leaders

November 1, 2019
by Team SESLOC

How do you raise a prize-winning pig?

Just ask Lygren, a local high school student and SESLOC member who did just that.

Lygren and his brother Shane participate in their school’s FFA program, which gives students interested in agriculture and leadership a chance to do something fun for their science class.

With the help of a SESLOC Youth Agriculture Loan, they purchased pigs and the supplies needed to raise and care for them.

Every day for six months they reported to the school’s farm where the pigs were kept to feed them before class. In the afternoon, they returned to feed them again, clean out their pens, and take them for walks.

“It’s pretty labor intensive,” Lygren says, noting that there’s quite a bit of technique involved in monitoring the animal’s diet and exercise regimen to get them ready for the competition.

“This is the first year I’ve done this and if I learned one thing it’s that pigs are pretty smart,” Shane reflects on the project.

Their hard work and dedication paid off when it came time to show the pigs at the California Mid-State Fair.

The pigs were judged for market, which means they’re evaluated on a strict set of standards.

Lygren’s Berkshire pig ultimately took home the reserve grand champion title for his division. The win came as a surprise, and is quite an achievement.

Youth agriculture programs like the ones designed by FFA give students hands-on opportunities to learn responsibility and leadership. Students explore and develop skills related to career paths not just in agriculture, but also biology, chemistry, engineering and business. There are opportunities to practice public speaking, and students can even earn an OSHA certificate while in the program to gain an edge for entering the workforce right out of school.

But the costs to participate in these programs can be prohibitive, and that’s why SESLOC offers Youth Ag Loans — a unique low-interest loan designed to help young members get started on their next animal project (and career path).

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