Clintonville senior learns about agriculture
Ag Youth Council seeks new members
By Greg Seubert
Ask Jacob Harbaugh an agriculture-related question and there’s a good chance he’ll know the answer.
If he doesn’t, he can probably find out.
The Clintonville High School senior grew up on his family’s farm near Marion and is wrapping up a one-year term on the Wisconsin Agriculture Youth Council, which encourages young people to engage with state government and increase their awareness of the state Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection’s interactions with Wisconsin’s agriculture industry.
Harbaugh applied to be on the council.
“I was really interested in the different programs that DATCP has and I’m intrigued by the way our government works,” he said. “I wanted to get a little bit of an inside view on how it works. I think I got a glimpse of what’s going on. I understand that the government’s here to help us and provide services. All we need to do is reach out if we have any questions.
“Every month, we have different speakers come in that speak to us,” he said. “They’re educating us about all of the programs that the department has to offer. I have those resources in my back pocket and now I can reach out to all of them if I have a quick question about the different topic area that they covered.”
Besides serving on the council, Harbaugh is also the current president of Clintonville High School’s FFA chapter.
“I’ll see a lot of the other kids that are on the council with me at different FFA events,” he said. “That’s really cool to be able to connect with and meet new people that share a common interest.”
Growing up on a farm
Harbaugh and his family – parents Lynn and Sara, brother Logan and sister Madison – own and operate Bella-View Holsteins, a registered heifer operation near Marion.
“Growing up on a farm teaches you a lot of different skills that will help you throughout your lifetime, such as work ethic, accountability, organization,” Harbaugh said. “It teaches you that might not want to complete different tasks, but they still have to get done. Growing up in agriculture has given me not an advantage, but it’s definitely helped me develop skills that I will take into my professional life.
“The way that our operation is, I can’t necessarily take it over because we only have about 20 heifers at home, but I’d like to do something like we have in the future where I can have a full-time job and take care of a few heifers as a hobby,” he said. “I have a part-time job on a dairy farm milking and I just find it really rewarding to work with animals.”
After graduation, Harbaugh is heading to the University of Minnesota Twin Cities to major in animal science and minor in agriculture and food business management.
“I’d like to be involved in production agriculture in some way, shape or form,” he said. “Most of the agriculture classes are on the St. Paul campus, which is much smaller than the Minneapolis campus. I’ve talked to a few students that are currently enrolled there. They really like the close, tight-knit community that they have there and I feel that’ll be really good to have common ground with the people that are up there.”
The DATCP is accepting applications for the next group of seniors to serve on the council. Applications will be accepted through Friday, March 31. Application and additional information can be found at AgYouthCouncil.wi.gov.
Students must complete an application form, which includes a brief essay sharing their involvement in agriculture and how their council participation will benefit their future education or career plans. Applicants must also submit a one-minute video and letter of recommendation.
Ag Council’s goals
• Highlighting agricultural-related career opportunities available, including jobs in government.
• Sharing tools available to support Wisconsin farmers.
• Providing insight on how to effectively engage in state agricultural policy development.
• Increasing network opportunities for participants across the agricultural industry.
Harbaugh encouraged interested students to consider joining the council.
“I just have a background in dairy,” he said. “I don’t know a whole lot about natural resources, crop management or any of that sector of agriculture. It’s eye-opening and gives you a more well-rounded education of the whole agriculture economy in Wisconsin. It’s good to know all of the parts and pieces that go along with agriculture within our state.
“I think it’s really important to understand the process of how your food is produced and where it comes from,” he added. “There are a lot of misconceptions about how food is produced. If there was a stronger connection between the consumer and producer, a lot of those misconceptions would be nonexistent. I would encourage people to reach out to their local farmers to understand how their food is produced.”