Can you count the ways agriculture touches your life? When you wake up in the morning, you are lying on cotton sheets. You swing your feet onto the floor either made of wood, a rug made of wool or flooring made from linseed or soybean oil. The soap in the shower contains tallow (a by-product of the beef industry) and toothpaste has glycerin in it. The towel you dry off with and the jeans and T-shirt you put on are made from cotton. You have already used dozens of agricultural products, and you havent even started eating!
For these everyday reasons and more, agriculture education is too important a topic to be taught only to the small percentage of students considering careers in agriculture and pursuing vocational agricultural studies. Throughout my Extension career, I have spent time in elementary classrooms teaching about agriculture in a variety of ways. When I ask the students Does chocolate milk come from a brown cow or a white cow? the answer is most always the same A brown cow! Although this might give most of us a chuckle, the answer really tells us that agriculture education should be a high priority and it should start with our children. Locally, 4-H and FFA members are educating our youth through various initiatives like Day at the Farm and Earth Day. They cooperate with other organizations such as Farm Bureau, Extension, Conservation District and Wildlife & Parks to demonstrate how agriculture and livestock are important to our everyday lives. We are all fortunate to live in communities where folks still care about agriculture and a rural lifestyle.
With a growing population and a demand to feed 9 billion by the year 2050, the agriculture industry needs talented, driven and passionate youth willing to make a commitment to agriculture. Many of these individuals will not have the production background I was privileged to experience while growing up. The next generation will have to gain knowledge and try to understand the depth of the industry through programs in 4-H, FFA and collegiate agriculture courses where hands on learning is critical to developing the skills necessary to feed the world. Make no mistake, there is tremendous opportunity for careers in agriculture, including banking, energy, food science, education, research and engineering and I hope you will continue to support those organizations who promote and support agricultural endeavors in our communities.