Today is National Teach Ag Day–a day to celebrate all the agriculture teachers in schools and universities around the country. I have a special spot in my heart for agriculture education because it helped an animal-crazy city girl turn in to this:
Wow, camera phones in 2007 were HORRIBLE! Anyway, I’m the redheaded human leading around Rosie the redheaded Shorthorn beef heifer. The intrepid gentleman behind us is one of my high school ag teachers–FFA advisor, mentor, and all-around wonderful guy Mr. Younts. My other ag teacher, Mrs. Keffaber, now serves as mentor coordinator for new ag teachers adjusting to teaching. (By the way: the pole I’m holding is used as a belly scratcher to keep beef cattle calm in the ring.)
It’s difficult to find a serious picture of me, but here I am in my FFA jacket (FFA and agriculture education are so linked as to be nearly the same thing at most high schools). I took my first ag class in eighth grade at a suburban (but formerly rural) school. At the time the choice was between Home Ec and Ag so I took ag (the only girl in the class, although at that time boys still had cooties).
My participation in ag class, FFA, and 4-H would shape my college studies and now my career. Through my ag teacher, Mr. Younts, I got the connections that enabled me to show animals in high school and pursue a degree in Agriculture Communications at Oklahoma State University (go Pokes!).
Here I am (in green holding the dark sheep) showing my ewe lamb and demonstrating one thing 4-H teaches you: how to look super intense and stressed out in a show ring (other things include responsibility, record keeping, work ethic, etc.).
My experience with FFA, 4-H, and high school ag classes is how I developed my passion for communicating about how food is produced. I’m the absolutely typical millennial–more than 2 generations removed from the farm (none of my grandparents or their parents farmed), born in Indianapolis, and raised in the suburbs.
Ag education is schools in incredibly important in rural areas, but agriculture today is much larger than farming. Even kids without farming backgrounds (like me!) can enjoy careers in agriculture and benefit from the leadership, career opportunities, and life skills learned in ag classrooms.
Thanks, agriculture educators!