Ask a Farmer: How Do We Get Kids Interested in Farming?

Questions Moms Ask Arizona Farmers & Ranchers: Response to AZ Mom Question #7

“How do we get our kids interested in farming?” 

(This was posed by a Mom that’s raising 4 boys on the farm with her husband)

Getting your kids interested in farming can be a challenge.  If we want to raise a generation of educated kids who understand and appreciate where their food, fuel and clothing comes from, however, it’s important to help them engage.  Who better to ask for guidance than a family of generational farmers?  Bill and Wesley Kerr are great examples of family farming done right; but, what’s their “secret?”

Bill Kerr (father) explains…

1.     I believe you have to start at a very young age.  Get them out in the dirt— playing in it and teaching them to plant seeds in small areas.  Let them be in charge of their plants’ care so they can have firsthand experience in watching them grow.  Let them get good and dirty.

2.     Introduce them to small, easy to maintain animals like chickens, rabbits or baby goats, for example.  Remember to always make it fun!  Your kids will benefit greatly by learning the responsibility of raising an animal.  Once an animal is put in a cage or a pen, that animal is depending on them to keep it alive.  There are great life lesson to be learned raising animals.  Sometimes the lessons are difficult— an animal might get sick and die or predators can kill their animals.  Keep in mind that you, as the parent, need to be ready and prepared to deal with these difficult, but real situations.  You will know best if your kids are emotionally ready to deal with issues that may arise.  Talk with them beforehand about some of the risks involved— keep it real, and age appropriate.

3.     Keep your project small.  Too many animals, or a garden that is too large, can be overwhelming and actually deter your kids from being interested in farming.

4.     Its vital that their experience is fun, positive, and enjoyable at a young age.  Some children are naturally drawn to agriculture, and others may need to be shown how fun, stimulating and beneficial farming can be.

5.     Depending on the type of farm your family has, you may want to expose your kids to other types of farms.  Reach out to other farm families to give them more exposure to the different types of agriculture out there.

It’s a great joy and blessing to have my son working side-by-side with me on our family’s dairy farm.  Wes was very young when he took a strong interest in agriculture.  I just took what he was interested in and exposed him to a variety of projects.  Some were easy and fun, while some were difficult.  When the coyotes killed his chickens, for example, it wasn’t easy, but he learned a lot.  He’s really good at building chicken coops now!

Bill Kerr

Generational Dairy Farmer at Kerr Dairy in Buckeye, AZ


Wes, Bill’s son, is a living testament to his dad’s methods.  He explains…

Farming is a livelihood and a way of life. I believe that people who do not love it should not do it.  As the FFA creed says, there are “joys and discomforts” with being a farmer.  My parents did not push me to become a farmer; instead, they encouraged me to explore many different options.  I am so thankful that they did, because it led me to go out and find my passion on my own.  I looked at the other options, but the love I had for farming won out and, luckily, there was a role for me on our farm.

In college, my parents insisted that I work at other businesses to learn about them and to learn how to work for someone else.  When I graduated from college, however, I ended up choosing to become a dairy farmer.  I then worked my way up to manage the farm after several years.  The road to this point, however, led me to working landscaping jobs and for a full time hay business.  I don’t do either of these today, but those skills showed me what work is all about and what working for someone else was like.

My suggestion would be to expose all the children to farm work.  Let them experience the “joys and discomforts” of farming for themselves.  In the end, however, you have to leave the choice up to them.  Their own desires, gifts and talents, as well as the reality of economics, will guide them towards a   certain occupation.  If they don’t choose farming, but are driven hard workers who are productive members of society, then good for them! They will always remember growing up on a farm and what they learned from it, no matter what they choose to do.

Wes Kerr
Generational Dairy Farmer at Kerr Dairy in Buckeye, AZ

Project Coordinator for “Ask a Farmer” Savannah N. Bayci

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