Raised on the farm pays long term dividends



In farming, genetics is critical to success in both growing crops and raising livestock. If you combine top flight genetics and the right environment you increase your rate of success dramatically.

In a similar way,  growing up on a farm can foster so many great traits and skills in kids that are expressed as adults. Whether it’s the pay off of hard work, understanding of a process, or just being practical with a dose of common sense, farm kids are provided the opportunity to succeed.

Whether it is the oil patch, agriculture, or in the NHL, farm kids have traits that are desirable for employers. In the agriculture industry, the advantage of hiring farm kids was more than just the fact they know how to grow crops or raise livestock — it’s also that they fundamentally understand the farm customer and what it takes to help them succeed. For many farmer,s getting their kids involved in the operation is a necessity for the family success, but the benefits are more long term than many people first consider.

General manager and vice-president of the Winnipeg Jets, Kevin Chevaldayoff, talks about building a culture of high performance and that those roots formed in agriculture. It’s an easy analogy for him to make — having grown up on a farm just north of Saskatoon, Sask., near a small town of Blaine Lake — he shares about how farming has helped him in life and with the way he scouts for players and chooses his staff.

“As an organization you want to reap the harvest, and the harvest for us is the playoffs and ultimately trying to win a championship,” he says. “But in order to do that, you have to plant the right seeds and you have to do the right things along the way and for us that would be the drafting and the development of players.”

Just like farming, he says the process of finding what works and what doesn’t takes time, but over the years and in the end, it’s all worth the grind.

There is an element of romanticism here but still there is something to the “farm kid” phenomenon. Anyone that has spent time around a sport knows how farm kids are given high marks for work ethic, grit, and strength

Ben Sasse, Senator from Nebraska wrote a book titled, “The Vanishing American Adult: Our Coming-of-Age Crisis–and How to Rebuild a Culture of Self-Reliance” that I encourage you to put on your to read list. Sasse discusses many issues parents face in raising kids but his use of “self-reliance” in the title is paramount. In my opinion, self-reliance is one of the skills you learn on the farm that enables success down the road.

Getting your kids involved in the farm also comes with responsibility to assign them age-appropriate tasks to ensure safety. I am all for getting your kids involved in farm operations but putting them in situations that are dangerous is not OK.

And don’t mistake my celebration of farm kids to mean that it’s urban versus rural. There are plenty of top notch urban kids that have just as much opportunity to succeed as a kid from Pullman, Washington or Ayr, Ontario, but farm kids definitely hold their own.

An interesting question to ponder is in the long term whether as robotics infiltrates agricultural production will the farm kid lose their work place cache? To put it another way, as the manual labour exits agriculture will farm kids lose some of their long term valuable characteristics? Time will tell.

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