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Advanced Search Rewards High School Student with Trip to JAG National Student Conference
October 21, 2013

Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) and partner to share the excitement of agribusiness careers with talented post-secondary students.  This relationship has led to sponsorship of the fifth annual essay contest.  Ashton Clark’s winning essay rewards him with a trip to attend the JAG National Student Leadership Conference which will be held in Washington D.C. in November. 

This one-of-a-kind opportunity will allow Ashton, a senior at Southside High School in Batesville, Arkansas, to attend many career building and life skills workshops, network with other students and tour the nation’s capital.  “I’m really excited to meet all the new people; the farthest away from home I’ve been is Kansas, so it will be a whole new experience for me,” said Clark.

Clark’s essay on ‘An Agriculture Career in your Community’ received the highest marks out of entries from across the United States.  For winning the essay contest, Clark will receive an all-expense paid trip to this year’s JAG annual student conference which begins November 21st.

“My ag teacher, Chase Hilton, has had a big impact on me and I think it is a really important job,“ shared Clark when asked why he decided to write about ag teachers.  “Ag teachers are perhaps the most important of agricultural careers, as they have such an influence,” Clark wrote in his essay. Read a copy of his full essay here.

Terry Watson, Southside JAG Instructor, encouraged his students to enter the essay contest. The school plans to take seven students to the JAG National Conference. “We’ve been selling pizza, brownies and cookies to help raise money for the trip,” said Clark, so Ashton’s reward of winning his expenses for the trip makes it a little easier on the entire team. 

JAG is a national non-profit organization that serves young people with barriers to success and therefore may put the student ‘at-risk’ for graduating high school or transitioning from high school into an entry level job that leads to a career.  JAG and their 32 state affiliates have been one of the most successful state-level strategies for tackling high dropout rates, low academic performance, youth unemployment and other critical issues related to ‘at-risk’ youth.  The National JAG graduating class or 2012 had a 93% graduation rate and 77% of those students were working, in college or combination of both, one year after graduation.  Fifty-five percent of the national graduation class were working after graduation and 70% of those were working full time.  This is more than three times as many as young adults in general and more than 3-4 times as many for disadvantaged, disconnected, and minority youth. These numbers signify that JAG is successful at keeping more youth engaged in education and on track for successful careers.    

This is Clark’s first year in JAG, but he’s been involved with FFA and agriculture classes since his sophomore year.  He plans to attend Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College to study agriculture on a Livestock Judging scholarship and eventually enter the agricultural education field. has worked with JAG for the past six years and has identified youth involved with a JAG program as a great untapped resource for talent into the agribusiness industry, specifically but not limited to, the many skilled labor positions that businesses sometimes find difficult to fill.  JAG is not specific to the agriculture industry; however there are some students that do have an agriculture background or tie.  The partnership between JAG and as well as other agribusiness supporters has allowed for additional promotion of careers in agriculture and the wealth of opportunities available to them, thus building an excellent pipeline of talent for the agriculture industry.  To learn more about the and JAG essay contest, click here.

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