Agriculture is a core industry, why not a core subject?

There is an old saying that goes “Once in your life you may need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman, and a preacher, but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer.” Agriculture is such an integral part of who we are as human beings, yet many people are extremely unaware of what it takes to get food onto their plate.

Although we live in an extremely rural community here in Sanilac County, many schools do not provide agricultural education to their students. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is an ag class at the Sanilac County Career Center that does a wonderful job, but I don’t think students should have to choose to go to the Career Center just to learn about the world around them.

Years ago, each school in Sanilac County had their own agriculture program and FFA chapter, however, they have since combined into one. Even though the programs have combined, we are still lucky because we are one of the communities that still has an ag program at all. Many schools and communities have no access to agricultural education and the FFA Organization, even through a tech center.

Agricultural education combines so many core subjects and skills. Students use science when determining how much fertilizer their plants need, or how much to feed their animals. They use reading comprehension when reading the label of a medicine bottle or fertilizer container. Math is also a key part of agriculture. Students have to calculate how much feed their animals go through in a day, week, or month, or use mathematical skills to separate their harvested vegetables into even portions.

The argument that agricultural education is not as important as other subjects is simply false. It is perhaps one of the most important classes a student could take. If we learn about the world around us and what it takes to sustain that environment, we will better be able to serve the needs of our planet to keep the place we call home thriving for years to come.

As someone who has firsthand experience in an agriculture class, I can confidently say that I would not be the person I am today without my ag class and the FFA Organization. I have been pushed outside of my comfort and grown as a person because of experiences I’ve had in FFA. There is a place for everyone in FFA and in ag classes. Many of my friends from my ag class didn’t come from a farming background and knew very little about agriculture when they started the class, but are now coming out of the class with a greater understanding and appreciation for the work that farmers and ranchers put in to feed the world.

With our global population only growing, it is imperative that we get new people involved in the agriculture industry. The average age of a farmer in Michigan is 56 years old. The National average age of a farmer is 59.5 years old. With an aging workforce, we need to educate people about agriculture and get them involved in the agriculture industry.

Lack of education surrounding the agriculture industry leads to false, and often harmful, misconceptions. Agricultural misconceptions affect many areas of our lives. For example, some brands advertise that their tomatoes are “GMO Free” in order to draw more people to their product, but here’s the thing, there’s no such thing as a GMO tomato. Companies capitalize on consumer’s lack of knowledge in order to make more money.

If we are able to educate students while they’re still young and impressionable, they will grow up to be more informed citizens that make better choices for not only themselves, but their community and truly care about the world they live in.

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