by Lisa Tome
Farming is in Ben Miller's blood.
Miller, 20, who will soon begin his junior year at Penn State University where he studies animal science, has spent his summer break where he belongs - working on the family farm near Calvert.
He grew up on the farm which is currently milking 200 head of Holsteins and Guernseys every day.
"I've done it my entire life. These are skills you acquire and it's second nature," said Miller.
His work days last 12 hours or longer. He starts early, at 6 a.m. If he's milking, he finishes up about 6:30 p.m. During hay season, the work day may not be finished until 9 or 10 p.m. Farmers don't get days off. He's in good company. About two dozen members of his family farm in or around the area.
His future plans include graduating from college and returning to the farm.
"I want to help and expand and bring something different to the farm, possibly a creamery and processing plant, possibly a farmer's market. People want a small taste of ag without the dirty work," Miller said. "I want to help with the farm, maintain it and expand it."
The home farm is 250 acres. The family farms about 1,000 acres total. In addition to the milk, they also produce 75,000 small bales of hay and straw annually.
It's a lot of work for Miller and his family, but to him it's worth it. He's a sixth generation farmer.
"I want to be in the ag field in any way shape or form," he said.
His passion for farming helped him earn a $1,500 scholarship.
Miller was awarded the $1,500 from America's Farmers Grow Ag Leaders, which is a new program sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. He is studying animal science with a focus on business at Penn State.
"Agriculture has been hardwired into my brain ever since I can remember," said Miller.
"I love how diverse it can be and how you typically do not do the same thing day in and day out."
According to officials at America's Farmers Grow Ag Leaders, "the future of agriculture relies on talented young people like Miller to fill thousands of jobs in a variety of fields, such as plant science, engineering, communications, finance and more. Grow Ag Leaders encourages rural youth to remain in agriculture and provides scholarships to support their education."
America's farmers Grow Ag Leaders is part of the America's Farmers initiative. Since 2010, the America's Farmers campaign and programs have advocated on behalf of the farmers and their efforts to meet society's needs through agriculture.
Miller is the son of Bob and Diane Miller. He is a 2013 graduate of Rising Sun High School.