MILLERSVILLE, Pa. — At Penn Manor High School, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding and Education Executive Deputy Secretary Pam Smith announced that $500,000 from the Pennsylvania Farm Bill has been invested in developing the future workforce for Pennsylvania’s $132.5 billion agriculture industry by funding 57 grants for ag education.
“Kids are the future and opportunities in agriculture are increasing every day,” said Redding. “Our goal with this program is to show Pennsylvania youth that agriculture is more than cows and plows. It’s computer science and technology, food science and animal health – it’s in labs and on farms, in restaurants and healthcare facilities. More importantly, it’s on our plate everyday and we need a new generation to ensure that continues.”
The Ag and Youth Program of the Pennsylvania Farm Bill funds projects for ag education and workforce development programs, seminars and field trips, agricultural safety training, capital projects, and equipment purchases that work to build a strong future workforce for Pennsylvania’s leading industry by increasing awareness about opportunities to work in agriculture. The legislation for the program was sponsored by Representative Pam Delissio.
“In 2019 I was privileged to be the primary sponsor of the Agriculture and Youth Development Grant legislation that revised and reestablished a program to fund youth organizations that promote development in agriculture, community leadership, vocational training and peer fellowship across the commonwealth,” Rep. Delissio said. “This legislation, part of the first ever PA Farm Bill, increased available grant funding to $7,500 per grant and made available matching funds of up to $25,000 for capital projects.
“The PA Farm Bill lays the groundwork to strengthen Pennsylvania’s work force and ensure the next generation is prepared to fill the employment opportunities that are anticipated in this sector. Congratulations to the students at Penn Manor High School on their grant and the opportunities it will create.”
Penn Manor High School received a grant for nearly $7,500 to purchase equipment to provide students opportunities to develop advanced skills for the welding industry through STEM. With the purchase of a plasma table and accessories, along with coordinating curriculum, students will have the opportunity to work on a wide variety of computer-aided design (CAD) projects to prepare them for real-world experiences in the industry.
“From the food on your plate to the chair on which you’re seated to the ground that you hike on and beyond, agriculture is all around us and a part of everything we do,” said Executive Deputy Secretary Smith. “These grants will help students connect with agriculture, learn more about Pennsylvania’s leading industry, and explore the dynamic, in-demand careers that are waiting for them which they may never have considered before.”
The 2021-22 Ag and Youth Program funded 57 projects, 14 for matching reimbursement grant projects of up to $25,000 and 43 for direct non-matching grants of up to $7,500. Projects were funded in 33 Pennsylvania counties.
The PA Farm Bill is Governor Tom Wolf’s bold, aggressive, and necessary investment in Pennsylvania agriculture to grow opportunities and resources, remove barriers to entry, and inspire future generations of leaders for the industry.
Pennsylvania agriculture is a $132.5 billion industry that provides more than 593,000 jobs to Pennsylvanians. That’s a 2.4 percent increase in workforce size since 2018. As the industry diversifies and innovates with new technology and its aging workforce retires, new opportunities are continually available. The Wolf Administration is dedicated to growing interest in this industry that feeds Pennsylvania and the world.
For more about the PA Farm Bill’s investments in agriculture or the work of the Commission for Agricultural Education Excellence, visit agriculture.pa.gov. Parents looking for an opportunity to expose their kids to agriculture are encouraged to visit agriculture.pa.gov/
–Shannon Powers, Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture