What is Really in Your Thanksgiving Dinner?

Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2017, most Americans will be sitting down to a giant, delicious, and wholesome meal. They will be spending time with their loved ones and possibly developing a so called “turkey coma”. With all this food being consumed in one day, it makes me wonder if anyone ever thought of where and how Thanksgiving dinner got from the farm to their plates. Growing up on a family farm in northern Iowa I have always valued this time of the year the most because the holiday is focused on time with my family and homemade food. Being from the midwest our Thanksgiving dinners mainly consisted of turkey or ham, homemade bread, sweet corn, green beans, tater tot casserole, mashed and sweet potatoes, gravy, stuffing, grandma’s chili, and pumpkin pie. This has led me to do a little more digging on food’s journey from farm gate to dinner plate. 

In agriculture today producers are increasingly being criticized about how to produce the commodities in their farming operation. With an increasing number of the population being under educated about how, where, and why farmers produce food. In a Thanksgiving dinner that includes meat for example, more and more people are opting for the labels on birds, beef, or swine marked “organic,” “cage free,” or “free range,” not really knowing that most of these food labels are part of the marketing strategy to get them to pay a higher price. The same goes with other produce in the dinner such as the potatoes, beans, bread, sweet corn, and pumpkin filling. Which raises the question, what about conventional modern farming practices and the people that use them? According to croplifeamerica.org, “More than 90 percent of farmers today embrace using the most innovative practices and growing techniques to produce enough food, fuel and fiber for a growing world while at the same time minimizing their environmental footprint.” and to me on a first hand basis that number seems to be increasing. Those farmers work hard too, the amount of work put into food and other resources is not your typical 9-5 job. According to agweb.com , A poll of 1600 famers in a Dec. 4 Farm Journal Pulse, “Around 75% of farmers report spending 10 hours or more a day on farm work.” Those hours add up quickly, that is why it is safe to say that farmers use their time efficiently to ensure that the commodity they are raising is taken care of with the crops and animals wellbeing in mind. 

So back to your delicious dinner, where did it all come from? (For the sake of simplicity the food is going to be sourced 100% from the United States.) 

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Photo Credit: USDA

Well, starting with your turkey it probably came from North Carolina or Minnesota, whom leads the nation in turkey production. Most people would be surprised that the state that grows the most pumpkins for pumpkin pie is Illinois.  Then the ham is more than likely from Iowa or Illinois, the wheat from the bread could have come from any state but most likely North Dakota, Kansas and Montana. With those few examples a person can imagine how much goes into the food we eat. 

With those statistics in mind I hope to sit down at the table this week and be thankful for all the things in agriculture that worked together to create the meal in front of me. I will also be thankful for the time I get to spend with my family because of that food. Thomas Jefferson once said, “Agriculture … is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals & happiness”, and so far this quote has held true to everyone that I know and love. With this it is my hope that consumers and producers will come to this conclusion as well. Then maybe we will agree on the future of agriculture, and everyone will have a happy Thanksgiving. 

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Photo Credit: Colonel Rock III “Rocky”‘s Facebook Page

My name is Dakota Brouwer, I am an Iowa native and an Illinois transplant, growing up in both states. I study Agriculture Business with a Minor in Agronomy at Western Illinois University. I also have a passion for livestock growing up on a cattle operation and I grew up riding horses with my family.  I appreciate your time reading my blog. 

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Benefits of Growing up in Agriculture

Agriculture. Many hear this word and it goes in one ear and out the other. To some, like me, it’s a word that has become a part of who I am and what I live for. Dirty boots, long hours, constant work, and no excuses were daily occurrences around the farm I grew up on. Our focus on the farm was row crops and showing/raising cattle. Agriculture has been my family and I’s way of life since I was in diapers. Growing up around agriculture taught me many things starting at a young age, things that have shaped me into a hard-working, honorable, and selfless young man. I didn’t always think it was “fair” that I couldn’t go out after the Friday night football game or sleep in late on a Saturday morning, but in agriculture, there’s no time for staying out late or enjoying a Saturday morning. Those rare instances happened when the cows were fed, stalls were cleaned, and the farm was taken care of. Fair? No. Building character. Yes. To explain this lifestyle to someone who isn’t familiar with it, is difficult, but that’s what we’re here to do, make people aware and knowledgeable of how this word, agriculture, changes all of our lives daily.
Through living a life on the farm and around agriculture, I have learned many life lessons that I will carry with me for years to come. Strong work ethic, responsibility, open-mindedness, and knowledgeable are a few of the most important life lessons I have learned. In this industry you become aware very quickly that you are not only working hard to benefit yourself, but you are responsible for benefiting people far beyond your imagination. No pressure.
Knowing this, having a strong work ethic is one of the most important lessons learned almost immediately. Being someone who has a strong work ethic means that you will not stop until the work is done, which is the essence of farmers and livestock owners around the world. Raising and showing livestock was not for the weak. You had to be disciplined, you expected your animal to be disciplined, so you had to lead by example. Responsibility plays right into having a strong work ethic. I was responsible for helping with working ground, getting equipment ready, and hauling crops to the elevator. While showing cattle, I was responsible for feeding, working, and training my show calves. These responsibilities came alongside school, extra-curricular, and just regular life responsibilities. It’s tough, but you learn to work through it and be the best you can be.
Agriculture has such a broad standing, that the new methods and equipment are always surfacing. Let’s face it, no one wanted to continue farming like we did back in the “good ol’ days.” There methods were good, but we’ve reached a whole new multitude of people to provide for. Being open-minded is an essential skill in being in this industry. Everyone will do things in their own way and have their own processes when it comes to their crops, and feeds, and equipment used, but if we all keep an open mind and listen to one another, we can learn a lot. From personal experience, I have acquired skills that have led me to have better organization, problem solving skills, and ability to be innovative. These skills go along with the saying “You have to deal with the hand you were dealt.” There are good harvests and there are not so good harvests, which means that not all of us have the newest, most high tech equipment, around, but will make do with what they have. This is how I was raised. We had what we needed and it got the job done, both on the farm and in the ring.

photo 3Photo From: Logan Johnson’s Facebook

Continuing to learn and grow is one of the most priceless life lessons I have learned. Agriculture has allowed me to have a better understanding of where, how, and why most of my food that I eat makes it to my plate. Many people try to avoid this topic of where our food comes from and how it makes it from Point A to Point B, because quite frankly, it scares people to know the truth. Now, this is another topic that I won’t dive into today but the reason I brought it up is because this is where growing up in agriculture allows a person to have a deeper understanding of raising and harvesting food that people are going eat. It lets them know why we treat animals with antibiotics to fight against illnesses and diseases. It allows them to know why we spray our crops to do the same thing as we do with animals which is fight off diseases that the plant could come in contact with. The end goal is to produce a plentiful amount of product and a very high quality product for the consumers. Yes, people have an idea of this process, but the only way to take it one step closer and really understand is to do and see what goes on.
Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” Agriculture is the backbone of our nation. Many may think it’s easy, but come take a walk alongside me or another amazing farmer one day, and we could teach you a thing or two (we might even learn something from you, too)!

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My name is Logan Johnson, and I am a senior with a major in Agricultural Business with a minor in Animal Science. Before coming to Western, I spent two years at Lakeland Community College. I grew up in the small town of Heyworth, Illinois. This is where my family laid our roots and we raised and showed cattle. Along with the livestock my family farmed a few hundred acres of row crops. It’s who I am and what I live to do. Thanks for taking the time to read my blog.

Preach What You Practice: The Importance of Being Agriculturally Literate

So what if I told you that getting a degree and accepting a full time position wasn’t enough? Or maybe that you needed to do a little bit more than own and operate a farm, because that’s so easy, right?

Okay, maybe that’s a little harsh, but hear me out.

Growing up, agriculture was a large part of my life. I was raised by a farmer, it was almost promised that at least one of my friends parent’s were connected to the industry,  and I went to a high school where 90% of the enrollment were members of the FFA. I have always thought of farmers as heroes, and assumed that everyone else did too.

Then I came to college. During my three years here, I have found myself struggling at understanding how unconnected some people are to agriculture. (I mean c’mon people, this town is surrounded by thousands of acres of corn and soybeans.) But as time continued, I realized that some of these people don’t know that the fields they pass are filled with crops that people build a lifestyle off of, and that those crops are then turned into the food you eat, the clothes you wear, or multiple different products that you use on a daily basis. They have never actually seen a cow, hog, or sheep. They have only seen pictures of them posted on social media accounts. And not only pictures, but pictures that misrepresent the industry that employs 17% of the nation’s population. And because of this and numerous other factors, the agriculture industry has found themselves as hot topics of controversial debates in environmental, nutritional, and welfare issues.

This May, I will be able to say that I have successfully completed a Bachelors of Science in Agriculture, but it shouldn’t stop there. Because even though it’s cool to say that I have learned how to mock design a plant breeding program, written a 10 page paper on the effects of White Mold, and preg checked a heifer carrying its calf,  that’s not going to make someone feel better about the large airplane flying over their house, spraying chemicals on the cornfield next to them, or someone worried about the presence of antibiotics in their meat. It does, however, make it easier to have these conversations, because you have more education to back you up. But as stated by Dr. Gruver, an agronomy professor who finds importance in gaining agriculture literacy, “education in an academic setting is valuable but is a very small part of one’s education (even for academics like myself who spent ~ 20 years in school!)”.

In order to educate the uneducated, and to be able to hold professional conversations with the people who are totally against us, I think there are a few things that those inside of the industry can do to help themselves become more agriculturally literate. Dr. Gruver also mentions “the foundation of agriculture literacy is curiosity… its not so much how much you know about agriculture at any one time but rather how you respond when you see an agriculture related headline, hear someone talking about agriculture, observe an unfamiliar farm implement or practice when driving down the road, notice an agriculture related post on-line, or look at a new item in the grocery store”.

Always stay in the loop

Do your best at keeping up to date with what’s going on in the industry: new technology, new innovations, current issues, etc. Read new blogs, watch more Ted talks, and take advantage of free conferences. This will not only bring more information into the type of farming you practice, but also open your mind to new possibilities and show you the new things that they may have to offer. Try to get information from both private and public sectors of the industry; this will give you the advantage of weighing your options before you commit to something new. Also find out information on what people outside of the industry are thinking. For example, a large number of society believes that there are antibiotics in our meat. However, they think this because they are not made aware of withdrawal periods. My point being, if you find out why they think the way they do, it will help you approach the situation and conversation in a much more positive manner. If you conduct the conversation using factual details, you will probably get more accomplished than just simply explaining that you farm for a living,and don’t agree with their comments.

Remain open minded

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Herndon Harvest 2016

 I’ll be the first one to admit, I am pretty stuck in my ways. I would rather not be susceptible to change if I didn’t have to be. (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, am I right??) However, you’ll find that the agriculture industry now-a-days is constantly trying new things, and the practices that you’ve watched your father do, who has watched his father do, might actually be outdated. These new things could range anywhere from new seed innovations to more regulations or  precision technology to environmental practices. Because of this, agriculturalists are forced to keep an open mind to the possibilities. I challenge you to do this with outsider beliefs too. Put yourself in the shoes of someone who was raised inner city,  who doesn’t understand the process of their food getting to the grocery store shelves. From there, understand that these people believe the first thing they hear or see from the media, simply because they haven’t ever been given any other information to doubt it. With that being said, if you ever come in contact with someone like this, use that as an opportunity to change their minds! (College kids, i’m talking to you!)

Do something new 

Always try something different while in the industry. If you are focused on the agronomy side of things, try reading more articles on animal science. If you are more involved in the production of things, try to understand more of the research that goes into it. This will further your knowledge and help you understand a wider range of progressing ideas happening in the industry. This will make it apparent that you are involved in the industry, gaining respect from outsiders. Dr Gruver stated “in my opinion, agriculture literacy is NOT “familiarity with a basic set of agriculture concepts” but rather is a process of striving to better understand agriculture every day”. In order to do this, we have to step outside of our comfort zone and do something we’ve never done before.

Communicate and advocate 

Always talk about the new information you are learning. Communicate it to your agriculture friends and communicate it to your non-agriculture friends. Have conversations with multiple farmers and get their input on the topic. Always advocate the positive things happening in our industry. Don’t be afraid to address false information with factual data to back you up. Talk about your personal experiences in the agriculture industry, and how it has undoubtedly affected you positively. Invite them to agriculture places or events. Give them tours of your farm, so they can see exactly how majority of farms are operated. Use your social media outlets immensely to give accurate information to a large number of people. PETA, HSUS, and Food Babe, 3 top anti-agriculture groups, all use social media intensely as a foyer in their marketing campaigns. According to America Press Institute, 51% of Americans receive their daily news from a social media account. Do you see the problem?

In order to further educate people outside of the agricultural industry, we have to be permit the further education of our own experiences and communication tactics. With these things, I hope that maybe just a few more people are capable of successfully sharing how agriculture has shaped their life, just as it has mine.

About the Author

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Hello beautiful people! My name is Jessica Herndon and I am a senior at Western Illinois University, majoring in Ag Science and double minoring in agronomy and animal science. I have an undeniable passion for advocating agriculture, which is one reason why I serve as WIU’s Ag Vocator Team chancellor. I am an opportunist, a lover of ice cream, a ted talk enthusiast, and my dad’s best friend.

Younger Generation Drifting Away From Agriculture Careers

Only 3 percent of college graduates surveyed and 9 percent of millennials said they had thought about an Ag career or would consider it, according to a survey by Land’O’Lakes Inc. This is a HUGE problem to me. I consider this a problem because the generation of farmers is getting older and are going to need someone to take over for them shortly.

The most popular areas of study according to this survey were; health care, technology and education.

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The problem of people drifting away from agriculture I believe has to do with them not knowing about agriculture. To work in an agriculture field you don’t have to be a farmer or a rancher. You can be an Agriculture Engineer, Agriculture Food Scientist, or even an Aquatic Ecologist. The possibilities in agriculture careers are endless, just if there was an easy way to get people to see that.

The survey by Land’O’Lakes also showed that 54 percent of people that responded believed that it was difficult for a college graduate to find a job in agriculture, and 76 percent either did not think or weren’t sure that Ag careers pay well. When in all truth,  the U.S. Department of Agriculture states that over 20,000 jobs go unfilled each year in the United States alone.

I found an article titled, “Why is There Lack of Interest in Agriculture?”, and what I read astonished me. Article below.

{   Why is there a lack of interest in agriculture?

  • Long hours
  • Low pay
  • High barriers to entry
  • Hard, dirty, sweaty labor
  • Finicky markets
  • Fickle weather
  • High and sometimes wildly variable cost of production
  • Thin margins
  • Agricultural policy that encourages less farmers

It’s not just a lack of interest, but also a lack of realistic opportunity in many places. But think about this: for a lot of history, long, dirty, sweaty and ill-rewarded hours were the best option for most people to ensure they had enough to eat. Today, in many parts of the world, you can get a consistent check working regular hours in a climate controlled environment, where even a shitty job will often pay more than farming.

Given that, I find it surprising how much interest there is in agriculture.  }

This article is an example of someone who thinks of Agriculture as only farming. When Agriculture is much more than just farming. It is technology, sales, soil science, animal science, machinery, and much more. This article itself is the main reason I believe in teaching agriculture to the younger generations.

We each need to do our part to ensure that the agriculture field doesn’t suffer in the future. Whether your part is to teach the next generation about agriculture, or being a part of the next generation of farmers, it is up to us to save the future of agriculture.

BIO:

My name is Jennifer Reedy, Senior at WIU, Majoring in Agriculture Business minoring in Marketing. I grew up about 5 miles north of WIU, in the country raised on a small livestock farm.  jen79.jpg

 

90th National FFA Convention

If you have been anywhere near Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, or RFD TV you would know that the 90th Annual National FFA Convention took place this past week. A record attendance of 67,006 included FFA members, advisors, supporters and guests. Indianapolis, Indiana was blistering with blue jackets and big potential. Being an FFA Alumna, I can tell you there is nothing quite like the National FFA Convention. Whether you were in a blue corduroy jacket, sporting your advisor credentials, or rocking your company logo, I think we can all agree that conventions makes you proud to be a part of the agriculture industry. There is something inspirational about being among great minds, rock solid leadership, and core shaking moments.  My experiences from this past week have impacted myself as a future educator and agriculturist.

I had the honor of volunteering at the Living to Serve booth while being at convention. Our team was comprised of past state officers, agriculture teachers, and outstanding National FFA Staff. The Living to Serve booth was a place that convention goers could come and gather information about how to better their communities. Visitors learned about how to Investigate, Plan, Serve, and Evaluate. There was an obstacle course, planning stations where visitors gained ideas to serve their communities, and a service activity. Each day members from our team would be at a different station. I was stationed at the service activity on Thursday.

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By Friday it was estimated that over 5,000 letters have been written.

The service activity that visitors participated in was to write letters to deployed troops, new recruits, or veterans. Each letter would be included in care packages sent out through the Operation Gratitude organization. Operation Gratitude sends care packages to service men and woman throughout the year.  Every visitor young and old would say how much they loved this activity. Some told me stories of their own loved ones and some would tell me of their experiences serving our country. That was a humbling experience, but nothing quite shook me to my core like counting how many letters were written. As we were sitting on the floor of the booth I was consumed with what visitors included in the letters. Messages of hope, encouragement, thanks, and overwhelming gratitude. After the second day a total of 4,000 letters had been written. 4,000; and it was only the second day of convention. My heart was overflowing, and I was in amazement how many lives would be touched by this. Seeing the determination to do good in all the visitors eyes was a huge indicator to me. It indicated that not only do FFA members and all who visited saw a need, but they want to do something about it. This is the exact mentality that our industry needs and its the youth of the America who will rally together to get things done.

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National FFA Advisor Dr. Steve Brown

 

Lastly, being an FFA member comes with high expectations. As soon as you put on that blue corduroy you take the challenge, any challenge that is thrown your way. Every visitor that traveled through our booth saw a need in their communities and accepted that challenge. Within agriculture, we are faced with challenges from every corner. I believe that a new era of agriculture is among. The theme of convention was “I can, We will!” , with this saying in the back of our minds we will succeed in any endeavor we encounter. I believe that within agriculture the time is now to let this need lead us into the next era. Wake up every day with that attitude,  embody the message in the saying and allow it to help you face every challenge head on. It will be this generation that will be meeting the needs of this growing world. I believe that at this convention the bar has been set high, and I have no worry that it’ll be the youth of American taking charge.I can, We will!”

Check out the National FFA Website for more information about this organization or to watch sessions from this previous week.

 

IMG_1116Author Bio:

Hello! My name is Lindsey O’Hara from Claypool Indiana. I am currently a Junior at Western Illinois University majoring in Agriculture Education. I have previously served as an Indiana FFA State Officer. I come from a largely influenced club lamb back ground (Leininger Southdowns and Slack Club Lambs)  and have a passion for everything agriculture. I am actively advocating for this great industry and excited to be in the classroom teaching the next great minds of this country.

Clean Energy is No Longer a Dream!

   By: Alison Riesing

Agricultural Education Major

   In the past, clean energy was thought to be only for the wealthy.  No More!  Clean energy is now a realistic alternative for the average citizen.  There are even several options to choose from depending on location and preference.  These options include solar energy, wind energy, geothermal, and tidal energy.  I will be focusing on solar energy because this is the energy that I am most excited about, followed in a close second by wind energy.  Continue reading to learn more about these clean energy’s.

Solar Energy

Solar energy is the most popular form of clean energy.  The main reason for this, if you could not guess, is that everywhere has sunlight.  We shouldn’t continue to pay to dig, harvest, refine, and transport fossil fuels when we can buy and setup a solar panel like any other type of appliance.

The only problem that faced solar energy in the past was storage.  This was not always a hindrance.  A man that my father knows rigged his solar panels to a car battery, then he rigged the battery to run his TV and computers at night.  It is nit optimal to have car batteries siting around the house, but where there is a will there is a way.  Today we have batteries designed to store solar energy.

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Figure 1 from greenenergyjubilation.com

        Solar energy is suitable for individual homes, businesses, or even augmenting a city’s already existing power grid.  The Tesla company is in the process of building a factory that only runs on clean energy.  There are also several companies, colleges, and even high schools that are augmented almost completely with solar energy.

For those that live in a typically cloudy area, solar can still be for you.  A person would need to look at their areas ‘solar budget’.  This might lead you to only augmenting your current power supply, or adding a couple of additional panels to gather more sunlight.

The fact is that we have a solar powered space craft that has been successfully launched several times and already have solar powered cars on the road.  We now need to advertise the fact that these alternatives are available and affordable!  The largest amount of energy I have used in a month is 500 kilowatts.  According to the solar calculator at wholesalesolar.com I would need a system that can produce 5555 watts.  According to news.energysage.com this solar system would cost me $15,000 after a single federal tax rebate.  That may seem like a lot, but in the long run and with some additional rebates it really is not that expensive.  This site has even stated that these prices have dropped about nine percent from 2016.  I have even run across some sites and articles that mention payment plans.  I greatly encourage you to do the math for your area and see if solar panels are in your near future.

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Figure 2 from dfwsolarelectric.com

        The following information is form the website altenergy.org.  I recommend that if you have any interest in the following energies that you post a blog as well to share the information.

Wind Power. The movement of the atmosphere is driven by differences of                 temperature at the Earth’s surface due to varying temperatures of the Earth’s surface       when lit by sunlight. Wind energy can be used to pump water or generate electricity, but requires extensive areal coverage to produce significant amounts of energy.”

This is no longer true.  They have now come out with a wind energy turbine that is roughly about 18 feet tall.  They have also solved some of the problems form the originals.  They have made them bladeless, so they will no longer induce seizure, throw ice chunks, or harm the local wildlife.  They have also made them nearly silent.  This means they will no longer drowned out all other sounds.

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Figure 3 above from iniegogo.com and on the bottom from youtube.com

   “Hydrogen and fuel cells. These are also not strictly renewable energy resources but are very abundant in availability and are very low in pollution when utilized. Hydrogen can be burned as a fuel, typically in a vehicle, with only water as the combustion product. This clean burning fuel can mean a significant reduction of pollution in cities. Or the hydrogen can be used in fuel cells, which are similar to batteries, to power an electric motor. In either case significant production of hydrogen requires abundant power. Due to the need for energy to produce the initial hydrogen gas, the result is the relocation of pollution from the cities to the power plants. There are several promising methods to produce hydrogen, such as solar power, that may alter this picture drastically.”

   “Geothermal power. Energy left over from the original accretion of the planet and augmented by heat from radioactive decay seeps out slowly everywhere, [every day]. In certain areas the geothermal gradient (increase in temperature with depth) is high enough to exploit to generate electricity. This possibility is limited to a few locations on Earth and many technical problems exist that limit its utility. Another form of geothermal energy is Earth energy, a result of the heat storage in the Earth’s surface. Soil everywhere tends to stay at a relatively constant temperature, the yearly average, and can be used with heat pumps to heat a building in winter and cool a building in summer. This form of energy can lessen the need for other power to maintain comfortable temperatures in buildings, but cannot be used to produce electricity.”

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Figure 4 from youtube.com

   “Other forms of energy. Energy from tides, the oceans and hot hydrogen fusion are other forms that can be used to generate electricity. Each of these is discussed in some detail with the final result being that each suffers from one or another significant drawback and cannot be relied upon at this time to solve the upcoming energy crunch.”

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Figure 5 from offshorewind.biz

        We already have designed and use many different forms of clean energy.  Now we only need to refine the designs we already have.  If we put all the energy we put into improving our gizmos into clean energy, even if for only a year, think where we will be.  I cannot wait until everyone in the world is no longer dependent on fossil fuels, if for no other reason than cost alone.

Agriculture Education, Is That Even A Thing?

Agriculture education was a very important aspect of my life through my high school years. I grew up in a rural community so it was common to have agricultural classes in high school. Once you migrate outside of the rural areas, this becomes an uncommon trend among schools. I believe that with the increasing issues in the agriculture industry, it is very important that high schools implement agriculture education into their programs so that we can educate the public.

When I started writing this blog, the first person that came to my mind for valuable input on this topic was my high school agriculture instructor Steve Buyck. When I asked him what he thought the key points were about agriculture education in high school, the first thing that he mentioned was creating agriculture literacy. He said, “Fewer and fewer students are coming from a production agriculture background, so agriculture needs to continue to educate those students of the importance and what agriculture does for them.” I thought this was a very fitting comment given the fact that I am taking an agriculture issues class currently and this is something that we have discussed quite often. With agriculture being such a vast industry, I believe that it is important to have this education in high schools. Agriculture education is not just for the rural communities. If it is offered in a public high schools around the nation, or even the world, we can have a much larger voice for our industry.

The second key point that Mr. Buyck said was careers. He said,”Agriculture continues to evolve and needs people. Agriculture creates many careers and agriculture needs people to fill those careers. Students need to explore the vast number of careers available to them in agriculture. Many of the students do not realize all the careers

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National FFA Emblem. Courtesy of the National FFA

available to them related to agriculture. Agriculture needs people with a basic understanding of agriculture to continue to meet the challenges of the non-agriculture minds.” Agriculture is not just corn and soybeans or cattle and swine. Deep in the heart of some urban cities sit some of the largest agriculture based companies in the world. Agriculture education can make the connection with these companies to set up future careers for students. They offer many types of internships in all areas of agriculture. This gives students a feel of what part of the industry they have an interest in. With agriculture education in high school, there is more of a target for the agriculture industry to find future employees.

The agriculture industry is the base of our world’s economy. If anyone is even remotely interested in this industry, agriculture education can give them that knowledge and know how to succeed. It is a vast world out there and agriculture education can help bridge that gap from student to employers. Through scholarships and internships, the agriculture industry wants its people to succeed. I firmly believe that putting agriculture education into all high school programs will not only be a benefit to students, but to the community and industry as a whole.

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My name is Tyler Lentz, I am a senior at Western Illinois University studying Agriculture Business with minors in both Agronomy and Animal Science. I grew up on a small family farm raising a herd of 25 head of beef cattle. I am actively involved as an alumni member of my FFA Chapter. I truly do believe in the future of agriculture and all that it can do. I plan to be involved in agriculture with every aspect of my life upon graduation of college. I want to see our industry succeed and hope that one day I can leave my mark on an industry that has given so much to me.