Agriculture is for everybody

Back to School: Agriculture Education

Back to School Throwback August 2020

Back To School: everybody is doing it. Everyone falls into a Back to School category: we still have kids that go, the grandkids won’t be around as much, the scroll on our social feeds are about to go from being filled with vacation at the pool to student activities, home office entrepreneurs will enjoy peace again, traffic patterns on your commute will change, the local soda fountain will have daily rushes at 3:05 p.m., or any other of hundreds of conditions that will change because of this seasonal transition. “Back to School” has truly been slighted by not being recognized as an official season. In Southwest Missouri it would come between “hell’s front porch” and “first false fall”.

Learn By Doing on “Farm Time”

Back To School does not have any appeal in our household. Our tiny farmers don’t find anything redeeming about the ceremonious end of summer. When it is to their advantage, they remind me they have been in school all summer (learning so many different things on the farm). Back To School for us means we all must get up at the right time in order to make it in time to a certain place on time (exactly). It’s not that we’re opposed to punctuality. We just often find ourselves on “Farm Time”, a term I use to describe how I started a process on time, dealt with an animal emergency, lost a tool, answered a call from a customer, hooked up a trailer, ate breakfast while brushing my teeth, and had to stand over one or both of my sons holding a fly swatter while they were putting on their socks in order to make sure they continued putting on their socks. These things are what cause my arrival to be described as running on “Farm Time” (I bet lots of you that don’t live on the farm find yourselves on “Farm Time”, too). “Farm Time” is not acceptable for school. And it shouldn’t be.

Going to formal school (whatever that looks like) and operating on time parameters that aren’t designed by us are both important things to do in life even though they may challenge our preferred path. Doing and learning new things that we may not utilize in obvious ways adds empathy, understanding, deeper knowledge and wider experience to our lives.  This is why everyone can benefit from just a little Agriculture Education.

My AgEd Experience

Usually when folks mention Agriculture Education they are referring to the youth programs of 4-H and FFA . They would be correct. I am a product of these organizations. They did not just teach me agricultural science. I learned leadership, job skills, and people skills and so many more things that I don’t have time to eloquently describe (this blog brought to you on “Farm Time” this week). As a young person who found no challenge in book learning and core subject matter, activities like these made school enjoyable for me.

Check out the Stats…

Being informed about where our food, fiber, and fuel comes from, how it is made, and how it gets to us would be described as “Agriculture Education.” 1.3% of the US population work daily as farmers and ranchers and only 10% of the workforce works within agriculture systems to deliver food, fiber, and fuel products to all consumers. This small group of people will know the ins and outs and utilize them everyday. It is important to be remember that 100% of people will need and use food, fiber, and fuel every day and that is a good reason for that percentage of the population to be informed about those things, too.

Tools Our Ancestors Didn’t Have

One of my dad’s first tractor rides-1957

Recently, people have had a renewed interest in agriculture. It is wonderful that more people are asking why, where, and how concerning the food on their plates.  With any genre of learning, the information available about our food includes the good, bad, and ugly (referring to the quality of truth portrayed in that info). The amount of information available at our fingertips instantaneously is amazing! I can hear the guffawed chuckle of my grandfather Lee if he could comment on the computers in our pockets these days. My great-great-grandfather P.L. would probably roll over in his grave (I hear he was probably already doing that a lot).

“Does it hurt cows to be milked???”

If only a quick google search on the question of “Does it hurt cows to be milked?” only returned one search result that had a truthful answer, we could all be experts. (By the way, it does NOT hurt a cow to be milked. In fact, it can be painfully uncomfortable and a little unhealthy for a cow to not be milked. She may appreciate it like we appreciate flossing…annoying, but necessary).

Ask a Farmer!

In order to save your time (and avoid arriving on Farm Time) and fill your cup with valuable information about your food, fiber, and fuel, I recommend that you turn to A FARMER when you are seeking a little Agriculture Education. The digital age makes it easy to connect to farmers on their farms. As farmers, we can seem too busy, but many of us deeply appreciate it when consumers are interested in what we do and several of us enjoy sharing our stories. The farming community is well connected. If you only know a farmer who grows corn and you have questions about cotton, it is likely that they can point you in the right direction or even introduce you to a cotton farmer they know.

 I want to be #YOURlocalfarmer

As #yourlocalfarmer I am excited to share agriculture with you! It is important to me to help answer your technical questions about the why, where, and how of your food, fiber, and fuel (I may even know a thing or two about flowers). I love the opportunity to share our #farmstory with you via social media. It is important to know what we do, but if you also know who we are then we have an even greater foundation for a relationship. When it comes to food, it always tastes better if you know the farmer who grew it.

When you have a few moments, make time for some Agriculture Education about your food, fiber, and fuel and get “Back to School”. After all, everybody is doing it!

Local farming guru Emma Alexander feeding goats at her family farm near Rogersville, MO

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