By Karl Brooks
I’m always excited about new opportunities to connect with young agricultural leaders in the Heartland and beyond. EPA recently participated in a Web-based discussion through Agriculture Future of America’s Online Network of Tomorrow’s Agricultural Professionals (AFA ONTAP). This online format is a learning tool and a chance for us to interact with university students interested in careers in agricultural-related fields.
During the webinar, we covered numerous topics including the Clean Water Rule, chemical safety, pollinator protection, pesticides, renewable fuels, water quality, and career opportunities. I highlighted the importance of the Clean Water Rule to rural and urban communities and EPA’s role in chemical safety as it relates to agricultural fertilizer facilities. Hopefully, we provided a snapshot of career opportunities in natural resources and how conservation of natural resources positively affects the agricultural industry.
From EPA’s standpoint, it is essential that we engage talented and committed young people with an agricultural background and encourage them to enter environmental protection fields in order to protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we feed our families. Those of us lucky enough to live in the Heartland know that agricultural families feed the world and have made American agriculture a mighty engine that powers our nation’s economic strength.
We look forward to working with Agriculture Future of America for many years to come, and we really appreciated this opportunity to build a relationship and connect with young agricultural leaders.
Emily Page, Agriculture Future of America (AFA) event manager, hosted this ONTAP discussion and shared the following thoughts about our Web conference:
Through providing this Web conference in partnership with the EPA, we hope we’ve helped broaden students’ perspectives of the agriculture industry. As an organization that prepares agriculture leaders, we work with premier students from across the country who understand and value the importance of preserving natural resources. However, not all of them may consider natural resources as a potential agriculture career path. We wanted to help them see the connection between what they love and what federal agencies like the EPA do. We also wanted our students to walk away from this presentation with a greater understanding of the important policy issues in this area. We are thankful Karl and his team were able to join us to share their expertise.
We host the AFA ONTAP Web conference series on a monthly basis during the school year. Topics rotate between agriculture issues like natural resources, leadership insights, and professional development. To learn more about the program and view recordings of this and other broadcasts, visit www.agfuture.org/ontap.
More information about EPA and Agriculture Future of America:
Karl Brooks serves as the EPA Region 7 Administrator.