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Don’t downplay "farm kid" experience

Parenting teenagers is tricky.

They don’t want advice, but sometimes they still need it.

They are making big decisions about their future, which might include looking for a job or heading off to a college, a trade school, or an apprenticeship.

There are certain “adulting” skills they may need help with, like writing resumes and filling out employment and scholarship applications.

We have sent two boys off to college in the past two years, and our youngest, Will, (pictured above with one of his calves) is a junior in high school.

We have a pretty good handle on getting kids through this transition now, but there was a definite learning curve.

Thankfully, my husband and I weren’t the first parents to ever go through this process with our kids, and fortunately we have friends and neighbors who want to help and are willing to share their experiences.

One of the best tips came from neighbors who had been through the process with their own sons. They also had experience serving on a local scholarship committee.

Their advice to us and the boys was to talk about their duties on the farm. They said young people often don’t think of farmwork as valuable experience, but it is. It shows they understand the value of hard work and responsibility.

When it came time for our older boys to apply for scholarships and jobs, they talked about managing their cattle herds, from doing daily chores to making business decisions.

Our middle son worked as a hired hand for a local farmer one summer, and that also looked good on his applications.

Spending three months building fence, painting barns, planting gardens, throwing hay, and loading firewood wasn’t glamorous. It put some money in his college fund, let him get to know a wonderful farm couple, and taught him the importance of reliability and accountability.

The scholarships and jobs the boys have gotten so far are due in part to the farm-grown work ethic communicated in their applications.

They’re seeing that the fruits of their labor extend beyond the money in their pocket at the end of the week, and that’s a life lesson they can take to the bank.

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