Kids are back in school — virtually, physically, home-schooled or some hybrid thereof — or will soon be and the air is beginning to smell more and more like autumn. Where did the summer go?
In my neck of the woods, the brick and mortar school buildings are open for the business of educating young people. There are safety protocols in place that might change the rhythm of the day a bit, but from all that I have heard, students, parents and teachers are very happy to be back into some semblance of routine for education.
Although in a much more limited fashion than previous years, the Brownfield Ag News team of reporters has covered several ag youth events held throughout the Midwest this summer. We all find great satisfaction reporting about events and activities in which young people involved in agriculture are featured.
Turn on the radio, television or check online and we are overwhelmed by many horror stories about people that commit heinous crimes in their teen years.
Peaceful protests are legal, but looting and rioting, destroying property owned by someone else and physically confronting innocent business owners is criminal behavior.
I’m not suggesting that membership in FFA or 4-H or having been raised on a farm guarantees a clean criminal record, but when citizenship, leadership and service are instilled in a young person they are more likely to build, not destroy. Knowing and experiencing the consequences of bad behavior doesn’t hurt, either.
Read the FFA motto: “Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.”
Read the 4-H pledge: “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service and my health to better living for my club, my community, my country and my world.” I am old enough to remember when “and my world” was added to the 4-H pledge.
Young people in this country are our finest natural resource and our future. If we guide them with love and discipline, challenge them and respect them and teach them in a way that inspires them to love learning, we will have fewer teenage thugs throwing Molotov cocktails in police cars and buildings.
I know that seems like a very idealistic view, but I find it hard to believe that there are many truly bad seeds born in this world. They are not born criminals. They become criminals.
This column is not about choosing a political side or discounting the bad acts and actors about which many of the peaceful-turned-violent protests have been held.
I simply want to recognize the importance of providing a solid foundation for young people to grow and learn while finding their place in this mixed up world.
Cyndi Young-Puyear is farm director and operations manager for Brownfield Network.