Fairfield farm kid develops passion for precision ag

    NTV's Farm Youth of the Month for March 2017 Jacob Schlick (NTV News)

    A local farm kid helped his school soar to new heights, and it all started with a summer experience unlike any other.

    Students at Sandy Creek can use a drone in their classes. More than toys, unmanned aerial vehicles can be tools to help farmers scout crops.

    Before he graduated from Sandy Creek, Jacob Schlick helped his school get a drone, to prepare kids for the future.

    He said, “Seeing all the new innovations come out of agriculture, it gets me excited. I like the new technology and how we're going to incorporate it into our family farm.”

    But it wasn't always this way for Jacob. A few years ago, he wasn't sure what he wanted to do.

    He said, “After my junior year [of high school], I developed a passion for the agronomy portion, and having drones for agronomy as well.”

    And the catalyst was a trip to NAYI, the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute, the longest running event of its kind in the nation.

    It's a weeklong experience that's been a turning point in many young lives.

    Amanda Kowalewski of Gothenburg said, “NAYI for me was definitely why I chose a career in ag. It's not just crops or livestock, it gives you a broad range of everything that goes on in agriculture.”

    Now Jacob is part of the Nebraska Agricultural Youth Council (NAYC), which is 21 of the best and brightest in the state.

    It recently gave him the opportunity to rub shoulders with the governor and ag leaders at the Governor’s Ag Conference.

    Jacob is a college freshman now, with big plans.

    He said, “After I graduate, I can return relatively close to home and start my own agronomy business and do multimedia with drones and help precision ag in my area.”

    His parents Mike and Ann farm near Fairfield, where they've raised four kids.

    Jacob’s passion is using precision technology to help growers save money on fertilizer and other inputs.

    And while there are challenges on the farm, he's excited.

    “I think the future's bright for the ag industry,” he said.

    NAYI Applications

    The Nebraska Agricultural Youth Institute (NAYI) brings together high school juniors and seniors from around the state to explore the ag industry, discover potential ag-related careers and strengthen their appreciation for agriculture. Applications for this year’s NAYI are now available from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture (NDA). Current high school juniors and seniors interested in attending this summer’s program in Lincoln have until April 15th to apply.

    NAYI is a five-day summer program for current high school juniors and seniors. The Institute will be held July 10-14, 2017, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s East Campus. NAYI features motivational speakers, discussion on agricultural issues and opportunities, a computer-simulated farm management game, a formal banquet and awards presentation and a street dance. Celebrating 46 years this year, NAYI is the longest running ag youth program of its kind in the nation.

    NDA selects students to attend NAYI based on their leadership skills, interest and involvement in agriculture. Applications are available online at nda.nebraska.gov/nayi or by contacting the Nebraska Department of Agriculture at 402-471-6859.

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