March 5 2020 01:30 PM

An after-school job on the farm gives students useful work skills and a purposeful way to spend their free time.

I will be 30 years old in just a few months. Throughout the years, I have seen high school workers on our farm come and go. I remember feeding calves when I was just a little bitty thing alongside some of our teenage employees.

In the past, we generally had two students working, sometimes three, at one time. We always had a handful of applications on file. Every time you would turn around you had someone pulling up asking if we were hiring . . . Boy, things have changed.

Within the last few years, the stack of applications has grown smaller to almost zero. The students we had hired stayed for shorter amounts of time. And the work ethic has lacked in some of them. The team we have at Hillcrest at the moment is great and I cannot complain, but looking back, there has been a trend.

When talking with other dairy farmers, they have experienced the same thing. Fewer applications, and it is harder to find help. Then, when you find someone to hire, it’s hard to keep them, or we are dealing with their lack of work ethic.

These are just a few pros to students having a part-time job:
1. They gain work experience
2. They gain references
3. They learn the value of work
4. They learn to manage money
5. They have opportunities to network with people in the industry
6. They learn to manage time
7. A job keeps them occupied and out of trouble after school and on weekends

In my opinion, although some may not agree, I believe the generation that is maturing right now has less motivation to build a work-related background through high school and college. The older folks say idle hands are a dangerous thing. Growing up, my family made sure the kids were getting their schoolwork done, and as soon as we finished that, we headed off to feed calves or help around the farm. We didn’t have time to get into any trouble or get distracted.

Caitlin and Mark Rodgers

Mark and Caitlin Rodgers are dairy farmers in Dearing, Georgia. Their “Father and Daughter Dairy Together” column appears every other Thursday on HD Notebook. The Rodgers have a 400-cow dairy that averages 32,000 pounds of milk. Follow their family farm on Facebook at Hillcrest Farms Inc.