Vocational agriculture programs piquing interest
Published: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, February 27, 2013 04:02
I’m sure we have all heard of the “So God Made a Farmer” commercial during the Super Bowl. Many would argue it was a great representation of the daily struggles and lifestyle of farmers in the United States. To others, it showed a lifestyle that perhaps they did not comprehend. The goal of those who put it on was achieved: It got people to think and — even if briefly — recognize and appreciate the day-to-day struggles farmers face. This is one way agriculturalists are bringing agriculture to the general populace, through television.
Today, there are more communication mediums than ever before. The Internet, social media, television and other sources are growing markets for advertising. To expand agricultural education, agriculturalists will have to use all these forms to reach their audiences.
Is it up to agriculturalists to garner interest in agriculture, and therefore spur people’s interest in learning about the industry, or should agricultural education already be part of our curriculum? Anyone from a smaller school would have experienced agriculture as part of their curriculum. Considering the importance of agriculture in smaller communities where agricultural activities spur the economy, as well as through organizations such as FFA or 4-H, these organizations heavily advocate for students to join.
However, budgets cuts often threaten these vocational agriculture programs, as they did in my town. Twice it went up for a vote for whether my town should keep the agriculture program. Twice, the voters rendered it important enough to keep.
Budget cuts affect education in many ways, but when we come to budget shortfalls, why is education cut at all? When education funds are cut it puts more strain on schools statewide, and indeed even more so on smaller schools. When this occurs, vocational agriculture courses come to the chopping block. This in turn hurts current students within these agriculture programs, and prevents future students from having the opportunity to learn about agriculture.
So then how do we educate the populace about agriculture? With the economy still in a pit and with the possibility of more budget cuts looming, can schools afford to have vocational agriculture classes, or will they cut them? If they are cut, how do we educate people?
This brings up an interesting question: Why should those in large urban centers not be educated about agricultural practices?
There is a level of discontent between urban voters and rural voters. The urban voters outnumber the rural voters, and sometimes vote on a subject they know little about — such as wolf re-introduction or management. This leaves the rural voters feeling infuriated, and among other things, misrepresented. This may be due in part to a lack of education about subjects that affect agriculture. Agriculturalists can change this by adapting new communication mediums to educate voters and teaching them about agriculture.
I think agriculturalists should adopt new communication mediums to help relate the importance of agriculture and to expand the consumer’s mind of what agriculture is exactly. Grade schools and high schools — regardless of population size — should integrate vocational agriculture programs, and when budget cuts come from Salem, fight to keep such programs alive. They may meet resistance at first — there will be people who say they do not care — but, over time, I would believe the support for such programs would only increase.
Agricultural education goes beyond grade school and high school. I would advocate for any student even somewhat interested in agriculture to take a class within the college.
There are agricultural classes that fill baccalaureate core requirements. The College of Agriculture is more than just classes labeled, “AG.” It involves geography, geology, fisheries and wildlife, botany, animal sciences, crop science, crop and soils sciences, rangeland sciences, biological and ecological engineering, plant pathology, entomology, toxicology and many more.
Within the College of Agriculture, you can find a class that sounds interesting to you. It may lead to a new passion, or it may just help you become more educated on something you may know little about, and didn’t get the chance to appreciate when you were younger.
Tyler Pike is a junior in agricultural sciences. The opinions expressed in his columns do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Barometer staff. Pike can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.