With the median age of the nation’s farmers becoming older each year, the LSU AgCenter has implemented a program to get younger people involved in the agricultural industry.

Bradley Leger, director of the new Louisiana Young Ag Producers Program, said the program will consist of a week-long institute, educational field trips and networking with peers and industry representatives. They also will be paired with adult mentors from the agriculture sector.

In order to enroll in the program, participants must be in the 11th or 12th grade in a Louisiana high school or approved home school for the 2010-2011 school year.

“We will have two students from each of the LSU AgCenter regions enrolled in the program,” said Leger. “Thus, we are looking for diversity in the participants and in types of agricultural production.”

A maximum of 14 students will be selected for this year’s program, which will be held July 19 through July 23 on the LSU-Baton Rouge campus. The deadline for applications is April 15.

Each participant will be responsible for a $200 tuition, said Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice-chancellor and director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service. Several components of the program will be funded from private and public sources, including the LSU AgCenter and the Louisiana Farm Bureau Federation.

“Participants will leave this year-long experience with knowledge, skills and resources necessary to enter the world of producing food and fiber for our world,” Leger said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s latest agriculture census reveals that the average age of agricultural producers in the country is slowly rising, and fewer young people are entering the profession.

“Since the demographics of Louisiana closely mirrors this national trend, there is growing concern that Louisiana and the nation could lose its ability to remain competitive in national and global agricultural markets unless specific action is taken to deal with this critical workforce issue,” Coreil said.

More information on the Louisiana Young Ag Producers Program and a downloadable application packet are available in the Internet at lsuagcenter.com (type LaYAPP in the search box).