When you think of the word agriculture, what do you picture? Does the word farming pop in your head? Do you picture fields of corn and pastures with cattle; or do you think of a $985 billon industry that is responsible for your food, clothing, and basically every single item you own? This statistic is the number one reason why I believe every student should be required to take an agriculture course.
Coming into college, there are a list of general education requirements you must complete to receive your degree. These general education courses make students “well-rounded” adults by learning knowledge of the world, arts, and information vital to their future; but, never once have I seen agriculture be required unless it was for an "ag" major. Agriculture is the reason people have food and clothes. It affects your shopping habits, your driving habits, what restaurants you eat at, and how you view the world overall. If this is an industry that affects every aspect of your life, why is it not on every student’s required curriculum?
Students would not necessarily have to sit down and learn how to farm, but they could have open access to the multitude that an agriculture departments offer. There are classes about horticulture, animals, economics, technology, communications, business, crops, education, soils, and many more. No agriculture professor is going to require their students to memorize art work from the 17th century or read Shakespeare, but they are going to give them information that is vital to their lives.
The education received in an ag course will turn students into educated consumers and open their eyes to the importance of this industry. While grocery shopping for themselves or for their families in the future, they would be educated to make the choice between a product that is organic and one that is not. They would know where their vegetables, meat, and grains are coming from when they sit down to have a meal. Students would be educated about how farming practices are used all over the world, rather than watching scary documentaries their cousin shared on Facebook. Maybe we could even take the words “factory farming” out of people’s vocabulary if they understood farming practices.
I could be biased since I am an agriculture major, but I see an importance for educating the public about the agriculture industry. We are more than sows, cows, and plows. The department is more than farmers, it is a range of students from inner-city Chicago to some podunk town who have found a passion for what agriculture does for the world. You don’t have to be a farmer to study agriculture. You just have to be someone who values the world you live in.