Rural Life Days to be held in Gillett, Green Bay

By | March 26, 2009

• Wednesday, April 1, at St. John Church, 127 Garden St. in Gillett. Bishop David Ricken will be the presider.

• Wednesday, April 22, at Prince of Peace Church, 3425 Willow Rd., Green Bay. Bishop Robert Morneau will be the presider.

Braun, an agri-science teacher and FFA advisor for Gillett High School, received the 2007 National Agri-science Teacher of the Year award from the National FFA. She said she’s “proud to be a farmer’s daughter” and was raised on a fifth-generation dairy farm west of Shawano. Her parents and two brothers now operate the farm and her husband works at a local dairy.

Braun’s talk will focus on how to encourage young people to enter agriculture and explore agriculture-related majors in college.

“We need to train the next generation for the skills needed to continue our food and fiber supply,” Braun said, “not to mention our medical fields, global markets and the well-being of our environment, which are all vital parts that relate back to agriculture. I know, firsthand, the importance of agriculture and my personal passion for this extends into the classroom and beyond.”

Norbertine Br. Steve Herro, social concerns director for the diocese, said that this year’s Rural life Days focus on encouraging teens and young adults in agriculture and will include the founding of a Rural Life Career Scholarship for students interested in agriculture.

“Several months ago, (the rural life committee for the diocese) thought, ‘Why don’t we dedicate the Rural Life Days collection to a grant or two for young people from the diocese, recommended by their pastors and parish directors, for their involvement in the parish and who are going on in agriculture or related fields?'” Br. Herro said.

He said the idea coincides with an increasing interest in locally produced food products.

“People are becoming cognizant of the benefits of supporting local producers,” he said. “This issue is getting a lot of traction.”

The collection taken at the two Rural Life Masses will go toward the new scholarships.

Br. Herro added that another issue in local agriculture today is “the connection between energy and climate change and agriculture. You see more and more producers becoming conscious of using means of production which are more carbon friendly. Whether that means alternative forms of fuel or no-till farming, you see more and more connections made between our carbon footprint and production in agriculture.”

Braun agrees that the horizon is expanding in agriculture. She said that it’s important to have “young adults learn the importance of agriculture, as well as its diversity. It is no longer just how to milk cows and raise crops.”

Her Rural Life Days talk “will focus on the new eras in agriculture, the trends in job opportunities for our college graduates, and the everyday importance of agriculture in everyone’s life. These are key points that are infused into my everyday teaching.”

While the average age for agricultural workers in Wisconsin is 55, Braun believes that “looking to the future is important. I see some of our graduates who choose to go on to college, but (then) plan on coming back to the family farm. I think it’s important that they continue their education, explore other options, and create a ‘plan B’ (especially with today’s economy).”

She added, though, that “the strong will survive and we see the same trends every few years. Agriculture is built on dedicated individuals and hard work. That is what makes our sector unique. The future for all of us is a bit scary but, with determination and the will to survive, we’ll get through this rough patch.”

Tickets are needed in advance for the Rural Life Day dinners. Cost is $7.50 at St. John and $7 at Prince of Peace. Call the parishes directly to order: St. John is (920)855-2542; Prince of Peace is (920)468-5718. Tickets are not needed to attend either Mass.

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