US poultry industry must attract young managers

As baby boomers retire,the U.S. poultry and egg industries recognize that attracting youth isessential; we must highlight our industry to the best young minds.

Barbara Jenkins, vice president, education and student programs, USPOULTRY Headshot
Barbara Jenkins, vice president, education and student programs, USPOULTRY
Barbara Jenkins, vice president, education and student programs, USPOULTRY

As we prepare for a world food demand that will double over their careers, today’s students are an integral part of tomorrow’s agricultural industry. The industry is full of great opportunities for young professionals across myriad disciplines.

As baby boomers retire, the U.S. poultry and egg industries recognize that attracting bright, talented youth is essential and we must highlight our dynamic industry and the many opportunities available to the best and brightest young minds to feed tomorrow’s world.

U.S. poultry companies need to take proactive role

Companies must take a proactive role in providing new avenues for industry access to young talent such as creating diverse internship opportunities and co-op programs to allow students to explore potential industry careers. Individual companies and the industry as a whole will be strengthened by providing more opportunities for young people to improve their skills, develop new ones, and help get them into jobs and careers they enjoy.

Though today’s poultry industry is highly advanced, let’s face it, it’s still not “top of mind” to a young, college-trained man or woman with no agricultural background. Yet, the industry needs to attract, recruit, train, develop and retain quality young people. It needs to fill up the leadership pipeline to meet the ever-changing industry challenges. But, how do we do that? Is there a magic bullet for making the poultry industry attractive to young, bright minds? No! And honestly, it can be a tough sell. But as the industry evolves and technological advances become more prevalent, we must step up our game to remain competitive in hiring bright, young, technologically savvy future leaders. We are beginning to take a proactive stance when it comes to training and developing the next generation of managers, but we should be doing more.

Tell poultry’s opportunity story in schools

As 16- to 18-year-old students begin to consider their career options as they progress through high school, it is important they are aware of the opportunities in the U.S. poultry and egg industries. As an industry, we should be ambassadors going into middle and high schools every chance we get to talk to students and explain what we do and the opportunities this great industry has for them.

Tremendous job opportunities await young professionals in today's highly advanced poultry industry. In practically every phase of the industry, there are management-level opportunities not just for scientists, researchers, and engineers, but also for business persons, marketing and communications, sales, accounting and information technology specialists. The ag industry needs and is waiting to be filled with young people who will devote a little extra time, energy and initiative to getting the job done. Future success and viability of the industry is heavily dependent on attracting young managers today to lead us through tomorrow.

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