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February 24, 2021

Youth in Agriculture: Cultivating Leaders in Ag

Celebrating National FFA Week with Pat Spinosa, Director of Business Development at AgAmerica Lending.

As a fifth-generation citrus and cattle farmer in the heart of Florida, Pat Spinosa has been surrounded by agriculture his entire life. He is a deeply respected member of the Florida agricultural community and is an advocate for the Forward Forestry Program, the Florida FFA Foundation, and the Florida Farm Bureau’s Young Farmers and Rancher Program. 

Director of Business Development for AgAmerica.

His lifelong experience in agriculture and passion as a youth advocate has led Pat to the position he holds today as Director of Business Development at AgAmerica – where he uses this role to not only impact agricultural youth in his home state but across the nation as well. 

 In honor of National FFA Week, we recently had a chance to sit down with Pat to discuss his personal agricultural journey and the advice he has for aspiring leaders in the ag community.   

Growing Up in Agriculture

What was it like growing up on a multigenerational farm?

There’s a strong sense of family growing up on a farm that is hard to put into words. It’s an experience I will cherish forever. I got to see firsthand the triumph and adversity farmers go through each growing season. Seeing ups and downs of our hard work from beginning to end created a strong sense of pride for my family history and legacy that I carry with me to this day. 

When did you start getting involved as an active member of the wider agricultural community?

I attended agricultural events as early as ten years old. My family was highly active in their local Farm Bureau community.  I remember itching to turn 13 because that’s when my granddaddy said I could finally come with him to the annual Florida Cattlemen convention in Marco Island. It was at these events I began to develop my own individual love for agriculture and where I learned more about it outside of our family operation.  

How have your childhood experiences and organizational involvement shaped the person you are today?

One of the most valuable lessons I learned through these experiences was how to tackle adversity head-on. It is a truly priceless lesson that I use on a daily basis. As I progressed further in my career in agriculture, I pinpointed my passion for being a voice for youth in agriculture. I attribute my work ethic and financial efficacy to my early experiences on the farm and aim to provide the same opportunity to young people across the country.  

What led you to work for an agricultural land lender like AgAmerica?

I originally learned about AgAmerica through a childhood friend. Knowing that I wanted to make a large-scale impact on agriculture and seeing that their company values aligned with my personal ones, I realized it was the perfect platform to become involved in agriculture on a national level across commodities. They offered me an internship at first, where my main tasks involved answering inquiring calls from farmers and ranchers throughout the United States. What began as a standard 90-day paid internship, turned into a full-time position six months later. Since then, we’ve built out our inbound, outbound, and client relations teams to scale company growth and support a healthy financial future for the American family farm.   

Supporting the Next Generation of American Farmers

What are some ways younger generations can connect to and pursue a career in agriculture?

To put it simply: Know your politicians and get involved with ag associations and farm operations in your area.  

It’s valuable to be known at all levels in the government, from your town to your capital. These political leaders represent our interests, so it’s important that the voices in agriculture are heard as they develop policies that directly impact our local communities. 

As far as ag associations, The American Farm Bureau Federation is a huge resource and serves as an umbrella for all commodities and U.S. agriculture as a whole. If you are interested in specific commodities, reach out to their respective associations. Future Farmers of America is a great way to develop your financial literacy, public policy awareness, public speaking, entrepreneurship, and hands-on experience in ag production.  

Lastly, get to know your local farmer. One quote I’ve carried with me throughout my life is, “No Farmers. No Food”. Over the years, I’ve come to see the quote as, “Know Farmers, Know Food”. Whether it’s on your family farm or an internship with a local operation, nothing beats hands-on experience in the industry. In my opinion, the number one challenge American farmers face – no matter what region or commodity – is labor. If you want to learn more about the industry while also giving back to it, the best thing you can do is get involved in production agriculture.  

How is AgAmerica supporting young farmers along in the agricultural journey?

In addition to our flexible financing programs that support the existing operations of farmers, AgAmerica provides support to aspiring youth in agriculture through the AgAmerica Foundation. Encouraging the next generation to have the skillset needed to succeed in today’s evolving agricultural landscape and professional world is a goal that we should all share. We proudly support organizations such as the American Farm Bureau Federation, Future Farmers of America, and 4-H by providing sponsorships for youth in agriculture and county fairs across the nation. 

Any final thoughts or pieces of advice for our nation’s young farmers?

One thing I think is important for the youth in agriculture to keep in mind is they need to be unafraid of thinking outside of the box. The world is changing, and agriculture is changing with it. Be bold. Bring new ideas to the table. Whether you’re a multigenerational farmer, an FFA member, or simply interested in learning more about your food source – you are the future of agriculture and you decide the direction we will go.  

More than a Land Lender

At AgAmerica, we understand the evolving nature of the industry and work hard to create financial solutions that can adapt alongside it. Beyond our role as a nationwide land lender, we are proud to offer internships and sponsorship opportunities to support the next generation of American farmers and ranchers. 

Visit our careers page to learn more about these exciting professional opportunities or contact us today if you are interested in an AgAmerica sponsorship. 

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