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.
Careers in agriculture have become increasingly diversified as the field itself rises to various challenges. The roles of agricultural students and professionals has been expanded to include everything from the role it plays in battling world hunger to ways nutrition can help prevent or even cure chronic illness. As a result, many students just entering the field find themselves overwhelmed by agricultural course choices. Here we’ll take a look at the best ways to find the courses to fit in with your academic and career goals.
If You Want to Feed the World
The most common career choice in the world of agriculture is the most traditional: farming and food or fiber production. With a projected population of more than 9 billion by 2050, the pressure is on for this generation of agricultural students to find new and innovative ways to plan, plant and produce. For students who want to focus on tackling this challenge, courses in responsible and sustainable farming, crop preservation, irrigation technology and advancement as well as courses in livestock and animal care.
Finding Ways to Heal the World
Another emerging area of agriculture is general nutrition. While this has often been more associated with healthcare, a renewed interest in farming practices and how they impact nutrition has given rise to a whole new crop of students. These students want to understand how food can heal, literally from the ground up. By analyzing the foundation of soil science, pesticides, bug control and crop preservation, students strive to find ways to produce crops that are healthy for the public as well as being hardy enough to grow on a large scale.
Agribusiness: The Corporate World of Agriculture
Finally, we have ‘Agribusiness’ which encompasses everything from commercial marketing and production to researching the ways in which science may be able to bolster food or fiber production. Courses in agricultural policy and law, economics, methodology and emerging research can all help students who want to be a part of one of the most diverse and forward thinking areas of agriculture.
These specialized courses should be considered in addition to the basics of agriculture which can be found in basic courses that de3al with topics such as
- Agricultural Systems
- Soil Science
- Basic Principles of Animal Husbandry
- Understanding Markets and Products
While courses titles on these subjects may vary from university to university, these basic primers on agriculture can help lay the groundwork for success no matter what specific field you choose to specialize in.