Young people and that first job on the farm

by Jay Reesor

Every once in awhile, I am asked what I enjoy most about being a farmer. It would make sense that I would respond, I love to watch things grow or I enjoy planting corn, both of which I enjoy. But that is not my answer to that question. What I really enjoy is working with youth. Our farm, market, and store have given me plenty of opportunity to hire and work closely with perhaps hundreds of high school and university students through the years.

Sometimes it’s a young person’s first real job working with us, so they come rather nervous and shy. Sometimes their moms or dads “make” them come to work and they really don’t want to be working. One of the things that we have learned is to make sure that we are dealing directly with the young person, and not their parents. (But on that note, my dad got me one of my first jobs at a golf course.)

I think I am drawn to working with the shy ones ’cause I used to be pretty shy myself and I love to build them up and help them gain confidence. It is remarkable to watch the positive development of youth through their experience at work. To watch them grow from awkward and a little slow to confident and capable is really a privelege! It is also wonderful for me to be in an environment that includes youth. It gives me a window into the challenges that teenagers and young adults face.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to wander through the soybeans and check for pod development and I enjoy seeing my customers select their corn from a giant pile of Gourmet Sweet Corn. But I get a great sense of accomplishment from observing one of our young staff gaining confidence and practical skills on the job.

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Jordan Barkey is one of our summer staff who started last year working in the farm market.  This summer he’s also doing deliveries and selling sweet corn from one of our trucks.