Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Agriculture: The Next Generation

by Tracy Zeorian, U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc.

Just think, Jen, if it hadn’t been for harvest, you would be just like the other kids in your class”. I said this after Jenna (#2 of four daughters) and I had been having a conversation about kids involved in a satellite Ag class. Our rural school has three kids involved in this class this year. Three out of 200.

You could be like the majority of the kids who think their food comes from the grocery store”. She shook her head in agreement. To make this an even more interesting thought, we live in a rural community surrounded by corn, soybeans and farmyards. If it’s hard for kids growing up surrounded by the industry, what must it be like for those who don’t even know what a kernel of corn looks like? I hate to admit it, but if our kids hadn’t been involved with our custom harvesting industry, they would be in the same situation as their peers. We don’t farm and haven’t had farming in our immediate family for several generations.

Jenna’s generation of students are now teaching your children. Most of them knew nothing about agriculture when they graduated. Saying we need to educate children begins with educating our teachers. A teacher is no different than anyone else. It’s easier to educate others if you have the experience and the background. What about time? Do our teachers have the time needed to add Ag curriculum to their already full day? Are they too busy teaching students what is necessary to pass state standard tests? Do they have the necessary and up-to-date curriculum IF they have the time? Is there funding within the districts to purchase the curriculum?

It’s so easy to say we need to educate our next generation.

Do I believe it’s necessary? Absolutely! The same generation of young adults who are our educators are also our leaders. The further removed from the farm, the more difficult it will be for them to understand the importance of agriculture. Agriculture is what feeds us, what clothes us and what keeps America, America. My concern is this – what happens when the farms of today are no longer? Are we ready to pay the higher cost of imported foods which we will have no idea of how they were planted, grown or harvested?

Agriculture education needs to come from the people who love it, who have a passion for what they do and can share their story. Please…tell YOUR story! Tell it to anyone and everyone who will listen. Make a difference and don’t assume someone else will do it.