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Future Farmers Weigh Their Options

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RALEIGH — Most farmers are having a tough time these days with the economy, and the weather. But young people interested in agriculture as a career are not discouraged. Many of them are in Raleigh this week for the stateFuture Farmers of Americaconvention.

The teens wore blue corduroy jackets on a 96 degree day, all part of the image the FFA has always promoted.

State FFA President Lyndsie Muirhead says the group's goal is "to show that teenagers are not Generation X. We have goals and insights for the future."

But the goals and insights these teens have for the future maynotinvolve farming at all, at least not in the traditional sense.

"I'm seeing a lot more members that are interested in the food technology area of agriculture, definitely in the business sector and still those who are interested in going into production," says Emily Buxton, vice president of the national FFA.

FFA members still learn how to judge livestock, and chapters usually grow out of school agriculture education programs.

Once limited to rural areas today, new chapters are growing in urban centers like Durham, convincing city kids like Justin Cochrane to consider a future in farming.

"I'm going to be a sheep breeder," Cochrane says. "I like sheep a lot."

Many FFA members are unsure what the future holds. But they feel their experiences here will put them at least one step ahead.

The once all-male organization is now 40 percent female. Leadership positions are now 60 percent female.


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