Iowa 4-H Seeks Agricultural Employers to Complete Youth Workforce Readiness Survey

February 6, 2024, 12:53 pm | Sydney Peterson, Cayla Taylor, Mitchell Hoyer, Lisa Berkland

food science workshop.AMES, Iowa – Iowa 4-H has been awarded a multi-year National Institute of Food and Agriculture “Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture across America” grant in collaboration with the Missouri, Purdue, Nebraska, Kansas State, Ohio State and Wisconsin state 4-H programs. This integrated project is designed to engage youth and adults in increasing the understanding of career and employment pathways in agriculture and food systems, as well as to better engage industry stakeholders in youth workforce readiness and skill development.

This project entails assessing career pathway awareness and identifying ways to increase youth knowledge of careers in agriculture by having industry employers complete an online survey. Iowa 4-H is seeking employers from across the state working in broad-based agriculture to complete the survey. Employers in production agriculture (e.g., crops, animals, logging), food and beverage products manufacturing, sawmills and wood products manufacturing, agriculture and related input manufacturing (e.g., machinery, chemicals), and agriculture and related input services (e.g., veterinarians, wholesalers) are encouraged to participate. The survey will ask employers questions on the following topics:

  • Adopting technology and automation.
  • Workforce skills and training needs.
  • Recruitment and retention strategies.
  • Vacancies and job growth.

“The employer survey is important in helping us better understand the agricultural workforce needs,” stated Mitchell Hoyer, interim Iowa 4-H program leader with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. “Information gathered from the survey will enhance 4-H Youth Development initiatives to promote agricultural careers and help 4-H programs better prepare youth to be successful in the agricultural industry.”

Crop Scouting Competition.This 10-minute survey will be open for ag employers to complete through the end of March. It is requested that someone knowledgeable about your workforce, age 18 or above, complete this anonymous and voluntary survey. More than one employee from the same company can participate with the option of also participating in a follow-up phone interview. Survey results will be shared with respondents at the completion of the study.

“Please help us share this request broadly,” said Hoyer. “This regional study will increase the understanding and awareness of career and employment opportunities for Iowa’s young people in agriculture and food systems.”

For questions or additional information, please contact Cayla Taylor, senior 4-H program manager, at

This investment is made through the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture across America program, part of the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences.

Youth Innovators Empowering Agriculture across America will lead to a reimagined youth development outreach system that will prepare young people for careers in agriculture and food sciences, and support youth programs like 4-H. These projects also support Agriculture and Food Research Initiative priorities of addressing climate change via climate-smart agriculture and forestry; advancing racial justice, equity and opportunity; creating more and better market opportunities; tackling food and nutrition insecurity; and promoting workforce development.

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