1. Partner with your local university/community college
Take some time to meet the individuals responsible for recruiting at your local university/college. Find out how you can support what they are doing. Find out what groups they are targeting and how you can engage those groups. Consider, too, getting the word out to students/groups they are not pursuing, but that might have some interest in food and agriculture.
An idea that might be worth pursuing is to offer a combination scholarship/internship with your feed and grain business for promising college sophomores or juniors. Perhaps even take this a step further and offer an “ROTC” (Reserve Officer Training Corps — college programs offered by the military at colleges and universities to prepare future officers in the armed services, which pay students for their schooling and require employment with the military upon graduation) type program. Some businesses call these “co-op” type programs — several federal agencies offer plans such as these. While you may feel you are taking a bit of a risk offering a guarantee of employment with your firm to a college sophomore or junior — most of these students should have good indicators for employability even at this stage of their lives — grades, campus involvement, recommendations from professors, etc. Also, this approach allows you to start filling your employment pipeline early and to work with your selected student as they receive their education and become more mature.
2. Partner with your local FFA/4-H/high schools
We bet you already are deeply involved in these organizations. However, do you focus on promoting future career opportunities in the industry? What explicitly do you do to help students better understand where they might fit in your organization/in the industry? Through your involvement, how can you help students see a future in your firm/industry?
3. Partner with a “non-traditional” organization
What kind of talent do you need longer term? Do you need sales people and marketers, managers, nutritionists and crop consultants, or Commodity traders? What skills do these people need? Looking beyond traditional sources, where might you find them? Maybe you should be connecting with the local science fair, or the Future Business Leaders of America. Maybe you should be tapping the journalism club or the honor society. Clearly, we are not going to find all the talent we need from the traditional sources. How can you reach out to students who are interested in what we do, but just don’t yet know they can put those interests to work in the agricultural sciences?