A new program called Save Our Local AG Kids...Now!! hopes to get more youth interested in the meat processing trades while offering them scholarship opportunities.

“It’s a way to help local purveyors with a lack of workers resulting in a backlog in meat processing,” said group co-founder Mark Finnegan.

Finnegan and those with local meat processing companies hope to get more young adults learning the meat processing trade. He launched the new program, with finances to be facilitated through the non-profit Clinton FFA Alumni Association partnered with TowneBank.

Finnegan already has secured pledges of $70,000 from local supporters in advance of the program.

The program will market job opportunities at meat processors through local schools and the media. It will offer a payroll supplement with substantial scholarships available to young people who meet certain criteria being established by the employers.

The program is open to city youth as well as rural young adults age 18 and over.

Working at a meat processor, Finnegan said, can be good preparation for a career in the culinary arts, veterinary sciences or agriculture and a way to earn money while pursuing one’s education.

The program is three months in duration. At the program’s end, it is hoped youth and the employer would know if they want to continue together.

“Details are being ironed out at this and we are hoping to launch the program publicly in early July,” Finnegan said.

In talking with area meat processors, Finnegan said there is a shortage of people going into the field.

Finnegan is discussing a partnership with Country Pride Meats in Clinton, Wilson Farm Meats in Elkhorn and Lake Geneva Country Meats in Lake Geneva.

People are invited to follow “Save our local AG kids...Now!!” on Facebook for updates.