Community Agriculture Alliance: The importance of agricultural education
Taylor Kirby & Grace Olinger
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
Every day, students who are involved in the agricultural program at Soroco High School experience and learn the importance of agriculture education. It’s more than learning how to plant flowers or judge livestock.
According to the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, by the year 2050, the world population will reach approximately 9.8 billion people; that’s 9.8 billion mouths to feed.
Agriculture education is important in public schools because students learn ways to efficiently feed a burgeoning population and gain a better understanding of food production and distribution. As former President George W. Bush said, “We’re a blessed nation because we can grow our own food. A nation that can feed its people is a nation more secure.”
In the Soroco agriculture program, students learn about animal science, agribusiness, food production and processing, natural resources and environmental systems, plant science and power, structural and technical systems. These learning targets are known as the “Career Cluster Model,” all of which provide career opportunities.
According to the National Future Farmers of America Organization, agriculture is the nation’s largest employer with more than 23 million jobs. This is equivalent to approximately 17 percent of the civilian workforce that is involved in some facet of American agriculture. Only 2 percent though are actual producers; the other 15 percent are the workers who further process or transport goods, which eventually land on dinner tables across the country.
Other workers contribute to the industry through transportation, conservation, fabrication and the production of pharmaceuticals and chemicals. The average age of the U.S. farmer is 58 years old, which serves as an impetus to continue teaching agricultural skills to future generations. To ensure the sustainability of agriculture, career and technical education programs are essential to inform younger members of society.
Regardless of students’ career interests or backgrounds, agriculture education helps students understand the relevance of the material they learn in classes. Soroco’s agriculture teacher and FFA advisor Jay Whaley believes it’s important to understand production agriculture but more importantly to be an advocate for agriculture because it’s the “backbone” of all great nations.
Farmers and ranchers are the first stewards of the land; they would not be operating and passing farms and ranches to future generations if they did not treat them as such. As fewer and fewer people have ties to agriculture, it is important to understand its value to the U.S. economy and society.
Taylor Kirby is the Soroco FFA chapter reporter and Grace Olinger is the Soroco FFA vice president.
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