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State 4-H Ambassador and 4-H Alumni Comprise the Next Generation of Agriculture Panel at Governor’s Ag Summit

November 21, 2019
a group of young people posing for a photo with Governor Kristi Noem
From left: Logan Wolter, Taylor McMartin, Governor Kristi Noem, Calli Williams and John Eilertson.

State 4-H Ambassador, Taylor McMartin, and 4-H alumni, Calli Williams, John Eilertson and Logan Wolter, discussed the future of agriculture on the Next Generation of Agriculture panel hosted by Governor Kristi Noem at the Governor’s Ag Summit held July 10 - 11 in Sioux Falls.

McMartin is a freshman agricultural communications student at South Dakota State University from Hartford. Despite not living on a farm, McMartin showed sheep in 4-H and now raises sheep on a family friend’s farm in the country.

“My goal for this panel was to share my non-traditional agriculture experience. Being the youngest of the four panelists, I offered a much different success story. Being a young producer is difficult and sharing my victory to aspiring producers and industry leaders was a tremendous milestone.”

— State 4-H Ambassador, Taylor McMartin
a group of young people on a stage during a panel discussion
From left: Calli Williams, John Eilertson, Taylor McMartin and Logan Wolter participated in the Next Generation of Agriculture Panel at the 2019 Governor’s Ag Summit with Governor Kristi Noem.

During the panel, McMartin was asked how 4-H inspired her to pursue her current career path. “My answer expressed how I was once a shy girl that was afraid of my voice. Through 4-H events and other organizations, I was able to create a solid foundation to build from. Both 4-H and FFA have embedded in me a passion for agriculture and public speaking, which I merged together to pursue my current degree in agricultural communications,” she said.

Eilertson is a senior at South Dakota State University studying animal science. He grew up on a family farm where they raised row crops, small grains, hogs, cattle and sheep. He was very involved in 4-H, exhibiting hogs, sheep, goats, cattle and other educational projects. Eilertson says he is passionate about raising quality livestock, specifically in the purebred swine industry.

“This panel was a great opportunity to share the challenges and rewards of being a young person involved in agriculture. The panel offered the opportunity for older agriculturalists to hear how they can help us gain momentum into the industry and encourage us with the support of being a mentor. It also offered the chance for us to learn from older agriculturalists. As much as we need support for getting started in agriculture, we also offer a vast deal of new technological advances and ideas. The panel offered the opportunity to bounce ideas off of each other,” Eilertson said.

Williams and her husband, Tate, operate a purebred Angus cow-calf operation near Letcher. They are considered millennial ranchers as they are ranching on an acreage they purchased and a cattle herd they started from the ground up. Williams also works as a Farm and Livestock Insurance Agent.

“Looking at the list of speakers that were presenting during the Ag Summit, I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect for a crowd that would be taking time out of their day to listen to a group of ‘kids’. I was blown away by the guests who were in attendance, the questions the audience had for our panel and the encouragement guests offered us.”

“I think it is extremely important to talk about the next generation of agriculture to not only instill a positive image of our generation wanting to be involved in agriculture and being willing to put in the work, but also to encourage anyone considering a lifestyle of farming or ranching that it is possible.”

— 4-H alumni, Calli Williams