Career Exploration for Tomorrow’s Industry Leaders

LINCOLN, Neb. — In continued efforts to provide educational resources and opportunities to its membership and the industry, the American Gelbvieh Association (AGA) hosted a special webinar geared toward providing career education to the next generation of producers and industry leaders. The event, Career Exploration for Tomorrow’s Industry Leaders, featured Jake Renner, former AGA member and youth activities coordinator, Of the West business owner, Jessie Jarvis, and Corteva Associate Territory Manager for Pasture and Land Management, Paxton Dahmer.

“Less than one percent of Americans grow the food and fiber that fuels the agriculture employment sector,” Renner told attendees. “However, more than 15% of the 320-plus billion people in the US are employed by a career in agriculture.”

With diverse backgrounds, the three shared what fueled them to become a part of the agriculture industry and how each leveraged the opportunities the industry presented.

Finding A Fit

Jarvis says that while she and her husband are both involved in agriculture and have a strong involvement in the sector through ranching and rodeo, she identified a gap between agriculture employment opportunities and qualified applicants, noting that the connections weren’t always enough.

With aspirations of becoming a doctor, Jarvis says that after high school, she was ready to part ways with agriculture – that parting of ways with the industry that she has known her entire life lasted for six weeks. She quickly found that agriculture was where she belonged. Changing her biology degree, Jarvis graduated with a business degree that she put to work for the Idaho Cattlemen’s Association first during an internship and then in a full-time position as communications director.

The entrepreneurial path became a natural fit.

“We (Jarvis and her husband) were always getting calls from friends—others in the industry—asking if we knew anyone for the positions these businesses, farms and ranches were looking to fill. Or we were having friends ask us if we knew of any open jobs,” Jarvis says. “After doing some research, I didn’t find that “connection” in an online platform, so we decided to start our own. That’s when we decided to build Of the”

Today, Of the West serves as a premiere digital platform for job seekers and employers in the western industry. Additionally, the service provides relevant industry career news and interviews from leaders in the industry through both a blog and podcast to serve as a one-stop career resource for anyone looking for an employment opportunity within the western lifestyle.

For Dahmer, a career in agriculture was never a second thought.

Dahmer’s current role with Corteva’s Pasture and Land Management team feels like home for the 2020-21 Central Regional National FFA Vice President. Traveling the countryside, helping ranchers is a natural fit for the Nevada, Missouri, native who grew up showing livestock across the country.

Studying agricultural education and leadership communications with a minor in plant sciences, Dahmer currently lives in San Angelo, Texas.

“I still work with producers every day,” he says, referencing his time connecting first at the local level through the state of Missouri and then nationally. “I work with our customers in a variety of ways to develop different programs that fit within their current grazing program.”

Renner’s story began one generation removed from agriculture.

“My dad grew up raising sheep and cattle just 15 miles east of where I grew up,” Renner says. “Growing up, we visited my uncle on the farm, but it wasn’t a daily ocurrance. I would say that I grew up with a narrow understanding of the opportunities in agriculture that existed. I didn’t understand the opportunities that existed beyond what I saw every day, and I think that is the case for a lot of young people today, and why resources like this webinar are important to shine a light on the opportunities that exist in agriculture.”

Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas, served as an incubator for his passion that grew for agriculture. Renner first became an extension agent for Kansas State University and went on to graduate with a Master of Science in Agricultural Education and Communication from Kansas State University.

Don’t Let Opportunities Slip By

“Agriculture is a tight knit community. This fact makes the industry both endearing and imtimidating to those outside of the show ring or beyond the farm gate. However, the panelists share that there really are no limitations today for opportunities within agriculture—if you can dream it, there’s a place for it,” Jarvis says.

“Agriculture is the biggest and brightest ocean of opportunity. Whatever you’re dreaming, there’s likely a great outlet in agriculture. From photography to computer engineering and everything in between, there’s just really no limitation today,” she says. “For those who are involved in agriculture, be kind and encouraging. It’s going to take us all and we need more people in our industry. We have an opportunity to share agriculture with so many today, it only takes our time to walk alongside and show someone the way.”

All three panelists agree that an early introduction to what agriculture had to offer, followed-up with additional education throughout the academic career of every student is a vehicle the industry should be investing in.

The one-hour webinar framed the career paths of each panelist, complete with the specific classes that they continue to find value in; the webinar lays the foundation for career discovery, hard and soft skills, transferrable education and the necessity to remain nimble and open minded to opportunity.

To watch the full webinar visit and find the webinar resources under the “Learn” tab.

The American Gelbvieh Association is a progressive beef cattle breed association representing 1,100 members and approximately 40,000 cows assessed annually in a performance-oriented total herd reporting system.