Students at Norris High School had a chance to get to know the governor this week during a question and answer session before school Wednesday.

Gov. Pete Ricketts took questions from students involved in the Norris learning lab, a project that prepares students for careers in agriculture by getting hands-on experience planting corn and soybeans.

The 26 students asked the governor a variety of questions, from if he played sports in high school to what the future holds for Nebraska agriculture.

Ricketts talked about the growing need for ag products as a result of more demand overseas, and what that means for future farmers.

“The vision of my administration is to grow Nebraska,” he said. “By that I mean to create more and better paying jobs so that you all can find the careers you want here in our state and we can attract other people like you to come move here and make their careers here in Nebraska.”

Brad Oldemeyer, chairman of the learning lab, said Ricketts’ message about staying in or returning to Nebraska for work is an important message he hopes the students keep in mind.

“The kids need to come back, I’m big on that,” he said. “We teach in our small communities that need them back. They’re good, bright kids.”

Ricketts talked about trade missions he’s participated in to countries across the globe promoting Nebraska products. He anticipates production needs will double as demand increases.

Students in the group asked how farmers could possibly double their production, which the governor said will depend on the continued ingenuity that led farmers to the production numbers seen today.

“There’s nothing that has lifted more people out of poverty than the free market and if we just allow our farmers and ranchers to innovate, they’ll be able to do it because they’ve already done it,” Ricketts said. “Think about how much more we produce per acre. Go look at the yields you’re getting right now and then go ask somebody who remembers what it was like back in the 1950s or 60s and see how much more we’re producing.”

Ricketts ended the session by stressing to the students that growing agriculture in Nebraska will only be possible with farmers like themselves, someday.

“You’re going to have opportunities to continue your education after you get out of high school, whether it’s a two-year degree or a four-year degree,” he said. “You may have opportunities out of state, but this is the best place in the world, right here in Nebraska. If you’re looking at your long term career plans, I’m asking you to look at Nebraska. Stay here. This is the best place in the world to live, work and raise a family. And we’re working to make sure you can find your career opportunities right here.”

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