Is it time to change the meaning of agriculture?
Can we talk about the meaning of the word agriculture?
A few years ago I started a project called Beyond the Farm with the goal of educating students about careers in agriculture. Over the past four years I’ve gotten the opportunity to present to thousands of high school students about agriculture. Every time, I ask them: What do you think of when you hear the word agriculture?
My top five responses? Easy. I hear: farms, farmers, cows, crops, and hard work. Is this really reflective of agriculture? Sometimes, yes. But a vast majority of the time? No way!
In my presentation, I spend 15 minutes with these high school students, telling them about the most in-demand Ag Careers, the variety of Ag career pathways, and the huge variety in career type, location, education, and salary within agriculture. There is no way that I can tell these students everything about agriculture in 15 minutes, but I can try.
I found out that after talking with these students for 15 minutes, I have increased their interest in an agricultural career by 26%. Twenty-six percent! My goal started out to encourage kids to pursue a career in agriculture. Over time, I’ve learned that just increasing their Ag-awareness is more than enough.
Increasing these students’ Ag-awareness will help to create adults who are knowledgeable about agriculture. And just imagine, if I can increase a student’s interest in an ag career by 26% in 15 minutes, what could agricultural education in all schools do?
Increasing Ag-awareness (agricultural literacy) is important since agriculture affects everyone. It produces the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and house you live in. Agriculture is also important since it’s responsible for renewable energy and conservation, as well as so much more.
One more interesting thing that I discovered during my presentations is that 80% of students think it’s important for youth to learn about agriculture. This shows that even our students think that ag literacy is important.
My goal is no longer to encourage students to go into an agricultural career, but to change the meaning of the word agriculture, starting with these high-schoolers.
By it’s dictionary definition, agriculture is ‘farming; the science, art, or occupation concerned with cultivating land, raising crops, and feeding, breeding, and raising livestock.’ Since only 1.3% of american jobs are farming and 20.7% of american jobs are agriculture and it’s related industries, I think it’s time we change the definition of the word ‘agriculture’.
Instead of having people that associate farms, cows, crops, and hard work with agriculture, wouldn’t it be awesome to have people that associate food, technology, science, education, social media, business, finance, and so much more with the word agriculture?
That I why I started this project, Beyond the Farm; to increase and change the meaning of agriculture beyond farming!
You can find more information about Beyond the Farm on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. You can find me at: @beyondthefarm1
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please share to help more people see my project so that I can work to accomplish my goal of changing the meaning of agriculture! #CAO20