The Value of Youth Labor in the Fields

Keith Wilson, owner and operator of King Fresh Produce told his three sons early on that they could earn money working and contributing to the operations of the King Fresh Produce, the family business. Initially the boys thought their contribution would start in the office; filing, running errands, and doing other tasks, however, their father said no. According to Keith, to fully understand the business it starts in the field–working the dirt, planting, growing the crop, and harvesting. The sons were told “Field work begins in the morning so be at there at 5:30 AM tomorrow morning.” Keith told them to not forget a hat and to wear a long sleeve shirt to not get sun burned.

“Working in the fields helped me learn the value of a dollar. It makes me think if I buy something it took me this many hours to earn what I am purchasing.” Zachary Wilson, 15 years old said.

Working in the fields can be overwhelming. These young men have to wake up early in the morning since it is over 90 degrees by 10 or 11 AM.  After working in the fields for King Fresh for two summers now, Zachary is interested in working in other parts of the company.

“Working in the fields makes me realize how much an education is worth. I need to go to college because I do not want to limit myself to a manual labor job. I love working outside but having to crawl into a grape vineyard doesn’t sound appealing to me to do for the rest of my life.” Brenden Wilson, 16 years old said.

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Adolescents understand that the jobs available today if only receiving a high school degree are likely to be filling orders, manual labor, and moving boxes.  More and more teens believe that receiving a bachelor’s degree is the first step in moving up in the social and economic ladder.

This generation sees education in a different light compared to the older generation who decided to go to work right out of high school. It seems necessary to earn a higher education to open the door to more prestigious jobs and higher earnings. The focus on earning a higher education’s provides our generation with a feeling of security.

Working in the fields at King Fresh Produce as  young adults has been a beneficial experience for Brenden and Zachary. They enjoy seeing their projects through and visualizing the positive effects they have on the company. They realize the small things they are accomplishing can have a huge effect on the company. They will carry the lessons they learned in the field with them throughout their life and never forget their summers spent in the fields.

-Paige Wilson

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