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Ag Expo youth deserve recognition

July 21, 2012

With good reason we pride ourselves on our agricultural heritage and the sound values and rural scenery and flavor that come with it. Washington County’s Ag Expo kicks off this week, making it a good time to recognize those young men and women whom we will be counting on to preserve these assets and keep our county a desirable spot for residents and visitors alike.

We also take this time to pay tribute to the amount of work that’s involved in bringing these animals and products to the fair. It’s obviously a labor of love, but that doesn’t cool the heat of the sun or lessen the weight of water buckets and sacks of feed.

The dedication to their pursuits can be seen at the fair, as young people sack out with their critters for the night and shower under water hydrants. Animals can’t be powered down, so raising animals teaches a level of responsibility that is missing in many aspects of the modern world. The ag expo also promotes the skills that come with raising and preserving food, baking, art, sewing and any number of hands-on skills that take more than a computer screen to complete.

And for those of us who value green, open spaces, these young men and women might represent our best chance at keeping excessive sprawl at bay.

The best way to keep rural land rural is to find ways to make agriculture pay. Along with traditional farming it might be through value-added products such as ice cream from a local dairy herd or in a niche market, such as heirloom tomatoes or free-range chickens. If there’s a way to keep farming viable, the participants at Ag Expo are most likely the ones who will find it.

If you enjoy our open countryside, fields of green corn and soybeans, pastures populated by grazing animals and golden rolls of hay, it might be worth your while to visit the Ag Expo and pay your respects to those who will carry on the tradition that dates back to the founding of our county.

The fair is a good opportunity to introduce your kids to agriculture, grab some good food and scratch the head of a goat. It is also a good reminder that if we fail to appreciate what we have, one day what we have might cease to exist.

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