Growing the Next Generation

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I write this article as we celebrate National Ag Day across America on March 19th. That’s right, the United States observed National Agriculture Week March 17-24, 2024, with the theme “Agriculture: Growing a Climate for Tomorrow.”  Hopefully, you’ve seen some type of media content promoting or expressing appreciation to the men and women that work hard each and every day to provide food, fiber, and fuel we need. According to their website, “The Agriculture Council of America is responsible for coordinating the event in efforts to help Americans understand how food and fiber products are produced; appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant, and affordable products; value essential roles of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy; and acknowledge and consider career opportunities in agriculture, food, and fiber industry.”

Farming has become more complex as scientists gain understanding between the interaction of soil, plants, and climate. Industry has brought a wealth of new technologies, products, and information to the field that has further increased the number of important decisions that must be intricately evaluated as managers continue to pursue efficiency. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, “Technological developments in agriculture have been influential in driving changes in the farm sector. Innovations in animal and crop genetics, chemicals, equipment, and farm organization have enabled continuing output growth without adding much to inputs. As a result, even as the amount of land and labor used in farming declined, total farm output nearly tripled between 1948 and 2017.”

In the spirit of celebrating National Agriculture Week, I want to highlight an exceptional program geared toward growing the next generation of future College of Agriculture and Life Sciences (CALS) students at NC State University who will be willing to take on the challenge of sustainably growing the food and fiber for a rapidly growing global population with less land, water, and natural resources. Allow me to introduce the NC State Howling with CALS Camp. The Howling with CALS Camp is a four-day residential camp (Sunday, June 9 – Thursday, June 15, 2024) for a small group of rising high school freshmen from rural and/or underrepresented communities and backgrounds in North Carolina to reside on NC State University’s campus to learn more about opportunities within agriculture and life sciences.

From checking out our dairy cows and having a taste of howling cow ice cream to propagating weird and wonderful plants, this week promises a lot of fun discovery. They are seeking students who are interested in learning more about agriculture and life sciences disciplines, have a passion for making a difference, understanding the science behind these fields, and participating in hands-on learning – in particular those students who have not had a lot of exposure already to these disciplines.

This is a grant-funded opportunity. Eligible and selected campers do not need to pay a registration or camper fee (travel costs to and from NC State’s campus not included). The goal is to expose young people to many of the academic, career, and professional opportunities within the College, and to support them even further in thinking through preparing to be a successful and well-balanced high school student ready to apply to college in the future. Campers will be led by trained NC State undergraduate and graduate student Camp Counselors, alongside CALS staff and faculty, through a number of different activities during their stay on campus.

Applications are open until April 22, 2024, and can be found at Howling with CALS Camp.

Please contact the Howling with CALS Camp Planning Team at with any questions.

For more information, contact Mac Malloy, County Extension Director and Field Crop Agent with North Carolina Cooperative Extension, Robeson County Center, at (910) 671-3276, by E-mail at, or visit our website.