By Julie Tomascik

Summertime and the livin’ is easy. That’s how the old saying goes, right?

That may be so, but it’s far from the truth in agriculture. Early mornings. Late nights. And long, hot hours in between. Summer is a busy season for farmers and ranchers.

From sun up to sun down, they work through the heat. Harvesting crops, making hay while the sun shines, fixing fence and a whole lot more. And their kids—of all ages—are there for it all.

Their farm chores grow with age. Small tasks for the little kids. Big assignments for the teens. And for those who come back to the farm during college, even bigger jobs await.

Because summertime farm work is just that—work. Teaching all ages life skills.

But a report released last month by the National Consumers League listed agriculture in the top two spots of most dangerous summer jobs for teenagers. Jobs like driving tractors and forklifts, working in grain storage facilities and using chemicals.

I won’t argue. Those are tough jobs. They even sound a little intimidating.

But the report left out a few pieces of the puzzle—responsibility, maturity and supervision.

Those teens work alongside their parents and mentors. Get advice and instructions—whether or not they asked for them. And they know the consequences of abusing equipment or being careless.

We’ve all had summer jobs. Some we loved. Some we didn’t. And there were some that pushed us to grow, even if we didn’t realize it at the time.

That’s what working on a farm does. We use math, science and communication skills. You even get a free course in meteorology!

If you have a teen who’s willing to work and learn a thing or two, find a local farmer who could use an extra set of hands. Everyone will benefit.