“Millennials media, and being entitled and lazy.

“Millennials May Find Their Dream Job On the Farm,” “Millennials Will Take Agriculture to the Next Level,” “Millennials Grow the Future of Agriculture Advocacy,” and “Millennials Are Ready to Be Builders.” These are just some of the headlines I found when I typed the words ‘FFA and millennials’ into my Google search box. Looked down upon by some and praised by others, millennials are now the largest generation, according to the Pew Research Center. We are eighty million strong, and we are taking over the world, and agriculture, with our confidence, innovative ideas, and use of technology (Perry, S). However, many individuals have specific, often negative, stereotypes about my generation. Some of these stereotypes include being addicted to our phones and social media, and being entitled and lazy. I see and hear a lot of preconceived notions about what millennials are like, whether it is at school, from my parents, or on social media. Most of the time, these notions are not true. So today, we will first unlock our iPhones and discuss what millennials are and the stereotypical millennial. Next, we will open our Twitter apps, check our timelines, and find examples of FFA members in Kansas who break that millennial stereotype with their supervised agricultural experience programs. Lastly, we will proudly display our #ICanWeWill hashtag to show how the agricultural industry can benefit from the world’s largest generation of self-starters, entrepreneurs and future community leaders.  First, let us unlock our iPhones and discuss what millennials are and the stereotypical millennial. So what exactly is a millennial? You may not want to admit it, but if you were born after the early 1980s and before the early 2000s, you are a millennial (Moloney, A). Millennials, or Generation Y, are people of the same age group who have similar ideas, problems, and attitudes much like other cultural generations such as Baby Boomers and Generation X. The largest generation, we millennials make up about a quarter of the United States population, and about half of the United States workforce. There are currently forty million millennials in the workplace, and by 2025, millennials are expected to make up about seventy-five percent of the workforce (Pollack, L). Our ideas and attitudes are influenced by having grown up in an electronics-filled, increasingly online, and socially-networked world. Ninety percent of millennials have a smartphone and another fifty-three percent own tablets, and most use these devices to access the Internet (Anderson, M). There is no denying the fact that millennials were raised differently, and have different ideas and values, than those generations who precede us. A recent study done by the Pew Research Center found that only forty percent of millennials even identify with the word millennial (Pollack, L). Why? New York Times bestselling author and millennial expert Lindsey Pollack states some members of Generation Y do not identify with the term ‘millennial’ because of the negative stereotypes, that are applied to the generation in the media. Stereotypes come in different shapes and sizes, but they all involve one thing; a generalization. Mom of two millennials, Saskia Sarginson, says the stereotype of a millennial is a young adult between the ages of eighteen and twenty-four. They are depicted as entitled, narcissistic, and lazy. They give up on jobs and relationships at the first hint of difficulty, because these are the kids who have come to expect instant gratification, after all, they were given participation medals for simply competing (Sarginson, S). There seems to be a theme that consists of three ideas; we are entitled, we cannot keep a job, and we are easily distracted by technology.  Next, we will open our Twitter apps, check our timelines, and find examples of FFA members in Kansas who break that millennial stereotype with their supervised agricultural experience programs.  We will start with the first stereotype: we are entitled. Meaning, we want something without having to work for it. I find this not true for FFA members. Take a former member of my chapter, Cordell Waggoner, as a great example of a millennial who earned their spot as a National FFA Finalist for the Wildlife Production and Management Proficiency Award. Cordell put a lot of hours and work into his SAE, and it paid off. He understood that he had to work for his goal. Cordell is just one member who represents hundreds of thousands of students who put into practice the skills they learn in the classroom into real-world career exploration.  Students all over the country are putting in countless hours before school, after school and on weekends in agricultural work experience programs. The second stereotype: we cannot keep a job. Millennials are known to hop from job to job, but the same cannot be said for FFA members. Take another Kansas FFA member, Austin Nordyke. He was recently awarded the 2017 American Star in Agribusiness. In 2012, during his eighth grade year and as part of his SAE, Austin launched his lawn care service. He stuck with his SAE and stayed determined, and it paid off. After grossing nearly one-hundred-thousand dollars during his time in high school and FFA, Austin leaves the FFA with life long skills that he could not have learned anywhere else.  The third and final stereotype: we are easily distracted by technology. We have a never known a world without technology, and we can use this technology to advocate for agriculture. We can share the message of agriculture better than any generation before us. Since we are hardly ever without our iPhones, we can easily distribute information about farming, healthy eating, and new technology. I do it all the time, whether it is snapchatting my cow giving birth, tweeting about the safety of GMOs, or facebooking about how great FFA is and the impact it has made on my life. We millennials have the ability share our agriculture story on a large scale. So how can we proudly display our #ICanWeWill hashtag to show how the agricultural industry can benefit from the world’s largest generation of self-starters, entrepreneurs and future community leaders?  FFA is a growing organization, and is not only for farm kids anymore; in fact, they are in the minority. Twenty-seven percent of FFA members live on farms, thirty-nine percent live in rural areas, and thirty-four percent live in urban areas. There are chapters in all fifty states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. Individuals like Cordell and Austin can be found in nearly every chapter around the country. Individuals like them are changing the world, and us millennials have the ability to change agriculture in ways never seen before. Millennials are group of dedicated self-starters who have the technical skill and confidence to carry agriculture into the future. Utilizing these bright young minds will help the world find the solutions to problems like food security and global hunger. This, paired with millennials telling agriculture’s story, will not only help promote agriculture and its importance now, but also for generations to come. Individually, FFA members can make their voices be heard by educating others on the importance of agriculture and how it impacts our quality of life. Together, our message becomes stronger. Individually, FFA members can be our future leaders. Together, they will make a difference in the field of agriculture. FFA members can individually prepare for career success through FFA and agriculture education. Together, they will make a difference in our future, and be the change they want to see.