Why An Ag Class Should Be Required For High School Graduation

High school is an important time in education. It should prepare those who want to go to college for what they may encounter. Those students should learn the quadratic formula, how to write an essay and about chemical formulas. It should also educate the whole student body about the basics of just about everything. At my high school, they implemented a consumer education requirement that forced kids to learn how to manage a checkbook, shop smart and budget money. However, there's something missing in our current education system. Most students don't know where the food on their lunch tray came from.

Cities are getting larger and larger. The populations within those cities are becoming more dense. Population is increasing worldwide, and the number of farms is going down. The number of students that have any form of agricultural background is shrinking. Most students have a generational gap of 2-4 generations between them and farm life. With this generation gap, an information gap has also formed. In college, I've met a lot of students who thought their food came from a factory. This information gap has led to terms like antibiotics, hormones, GMOs, and organic to be thrown around without real knowledge of the topics. It's forcing farmers to struggle with how they work their land because the general public is scolding them without knowing the full story.

Rural America is no exception. There are students walking through high schools surrounded by corn fields that have no idea what is all happening around them. While they are more exposed to the process, they still believe agriculture is just about farming. Agriculture makes up 12% of the nation's employment. Only 2% of America actually farm. The other part of the industry is full of businessmen, people who work in communications, scientists, vets, nutritionists and even truck drivers. Agriculture is the process of getting your food from the field to the fork. A lot of these jobs go unclaimed. Bosses have a hard time finding strong employees because students don't know the jobs exist.

High schoolers need to know about that 10% of the job market that is open to them. In order to be good stewards of the earth and informed voters, they need to know about agricultural issues. They could also be exposed to the organization known as FFA. It is a student organization in agriculture that not only teaches how to judge a cow, but also teaches public speaking, parliamentary procedure, leadership skills and builds confidence. It could benefit students in many more ways than just being able to identify weeds.

We all eat. We should all know where it comes from. Make agriculture education a requirement.

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