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Students learn about agriculture career paths during field day

Students speak with a recruiter from SIU during career field day

EWING, Ill. – While the industry may be saturated with job opportunities, many teens and young adults simply don’t know which path to take. Illinois Extension connects students directly with higher education and career opportunities each year through the Agricultural Careers and Technology Student Field Day.

Since its launch eight years ago, Extension has hosted nearly 900 students at this annual event. Those in attendance at the 2023 program include students from John A. Logan College and Rend Lake College and high school students from Sesser-Valier, Marion, Benton, Mt. Vernon, and Johnston City.

John Kabat, FFA advisor for Mt. Vernon Township High School, has taught students for nearly four decades and has brought many of his students to the annual event. 

“If they don’t get out and see stuff beyond the four walls of the classroom, they don’t fully understand the opportunities,” said Kabat. “The field just brings things to life, and it can give them a better decision on what they want to do in their future.”

Each year, industry leaders attend the event to answer questions and talk to students about what they look for in potential employees. H&R Agri-Power, which has 21 locations in six states, attended the event for the first time. Josh Underwood, a representative from H&R Agri-Power, said while they are always looking to hire service technicians, there are many other job opportunities.

“We have positions in accounting, marketing, sales, parts, and service,” said Underwood. “If you’re good with people, willing to learn, willing to work, the possibilities are really endless.”

Students interested in pursuing higher education in the field of agriculture spoke directly to recruiters and student ambassadors from Southern Illinois University. High school students interested in attending a local community college could also collect informational resources and communicate with instructors from Rend Lake or John A. Logan Community College agriculture programs.

Ewing Demonstration Center has been a staple of Southern Illinois since 1910 and drives research in cover crops, pumpkins, insecticide and herbicide trials, and other agronomic trials with corn, soybeans, wheat, and sorghum. Students could view the 80 acres of research plots as they traveled to each presentation station through “people movers” pulled by tractors.

To learn more about upcoming events hosted by Extension, please visit

SOURCE:  Talon Becker, commercial agriculture educator, University of Illinois Extension,, (618) 439-3178

WRITER: Heather Willis, marketing and communications coordinator,, (618) 357-2126

About Extension

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities. Illinois Extension is part of the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences.