In an age where technologically driven careers have taken center stage, many people are left wondering whether or not agricultural education is still important. In fact, careers in agriculture have become increasingly important as people work to find ways to grow better quality food in more versatile ways. We can also notice the increase of students in various agricultural disciplines. After all, agricultural education is more than simply learning how to grow food or plant based textiles. Agricultural education also encompasses:
- food and fiber production
- marketing and education (domestic and international)
- policy making
- using technology and scientific research to help agriculture
- food and fiber processing
- Agribusiness (management and marketing)
- urban planning
Understanding how agriculture can help increase food production, improve textile processing and work to combat issues such as domestic and world hunger places agricultural education at the forefront of today’s global issues and concerns.
Considering how multifaceted agricultural education is, it comes as a surprise to many to learn that this type of education can be started in early childhood. Small children can help to tend gardens and learn the basics of gardening and food production. In 2007, the Long Beach Unified School District made headlines when it introduced a 22-bed garden at the Los Cerritos Elementary School. Since then the project has helped to teach thousands of children the basics of gardening for personal use as well as the foundations for larger-scale agricultural projects.
Many times, agricultural education is discussed in terms of making students agriculturally literate. This means learning more than simply the basics, but building upon that to promote agriculture as a sustainable way of life both for farmers and the general public. Framing agriculture education as a way to help deal with modern problems gives students of all ages the chance to see that they are able to make a significant – and positive – impact on the world.
With a renewed focus on “green living”, agriculture has enjoyed new found interest and popularity as movements such as “Grow Food Not Farms” and “Real Farmacy” have captured the spirit and imagination of a new generation. Current estimates place pressure on agriculture to develop ways to feed more than 9 billion by the year 2050 which has made agricultural education more vital and important than ever before.