Why Is Agricultural Education Important?

The United Nations predicts the population will increase to 10.4 billion by 2100. Because the population is steadily growing, so is the demand for food, which is why agricultural education is vital. Through agricultural education, generations can have a thorough knowledge of where their food comes from, and more people may be inclined to become employed in agriculture to help meet the needs of a growing population.

Learn more about why it’s important to learn about agriculture below.

What Is Agricultural Education?

As a topic of study, agricultural education encompasses the analysis of agriculture, natural resources, food sources and related subjects. At the most basic level, it’s a concept that sustains the human population, as agriculture is essential to life.

For the most part, agricultural education happens through studying various topics related to farming, whether it be various planting and growing practices or the history on how agriculture has evolved in the U.S. However, many agricultural education programs also include interactive activities, where students may take field trips to local farms or participate in growing a garden on campus.

Some agricultural education topics include:

  • Horticulture
  • Crop production
  • Agronomy
  • Animal husbandry
  • Agriculture and agricultural science
  • Farm management
  • Agricultural engineering

The History of Agricultural Education in the United States

When children went to school in the U.S. in the 1800s, many students lived on farms and participated in their operations, so agriculture was part of their everyday lives. In fact, school days were planned around farming schedules, so schools in rural areas didn’t often have summer vacations because students weren’t needed on the farm as much. Instead, they attended school in the summer and winter, leaving fall and spring open for planting and harvesting.

By the 1920s, the emphasis on agricultural education decreased. However, some educators recognized the importance of agricultural education for the future and pushed to keep it in schools. In the 1960s, schools received new materials related to agricultural education. In 1981, the United States Department of Agriculture began to oversee national agricultural education, helping states organize programs to teach agricultural education and make it relevant to their communities.

Why Is It Important to Learn About Agriculture?

Let’s explore 10 reasons why agriculture education is crucial in today’s society and for future generations:

1. Increases Self-Sustainability

This kind of education teaches young minds all about the food they eat, from production to consumption.

It can stimulate interest in the agriculture industry so that more farmers can meet the growing population’s food demand. In addition, students learn the basics of how to grow crops or tend to livestock, so they can create a vegetable garden or raise chickens for eggs. This knowledge reduces the divide between farm and table and enhances food security.

Additionally, agricultural education teaches students basic survival skills. As a result, they can differentiate between poisonous and non-poisonous plants and learn about soil health and food safety.

2. Promotes Informed Decision-Making

When learning about food production, students learn about the technology that goes into it. By understanding how their food is grown and what goes into it, students can determine the nutritional value of different foods. Then, they can look past marketing schemes and make informed decisions about the products they purchase and consume.

3. Helps Sustain the Economy

The agriculture industry contributes billions to the economy and is a steadily growing field. In 2021, America’s farms contributed $164.7 billion to the U.S. economy. Additionally, the U.S. had the highest annual agricultural export levels that year. By teaching people about agriculture, how it works and how to properly practice it, we can continue to broaden agriculture’s positive impact on the economy.

agriculture offers plenty of career opportunities

4. Offers Career Opportunities

those interested in careers in veterinary science, animal farming or related fields can learn about the care and management of animals through agricultural education. Other careers students can learn about through agricultural education include:

  • Ranching
  • Agricultural engineering
  • Agribusiness
  • Agricultural marketing
  • Food inspection

In addition, students can utilize the skills they gain through agricultural education in other industries. These programs often mix academic learning and experience, which can help students develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

Furthermore, organizations like Future Farmers of America and Agriculture Future of America provide students with opportunities to develop leadership, social, networking and competitive skills.

5. Keeps Food Costs Low

A large part of the U.S. as a country is agriculture, as various parts of the country lend themselves to farming practices, whether it’s growing corn in the Midwest, raising livestock in the North or harvesting oranges in the South. Compared to many other countries, the U.S. has a robust and diverse agricultural system that allows food costs to remain relatively low thanks to self-sufficiency — the country only imports around 15% of its food supply.

In order to help support that trend, agricultural education encourages students to potentially pursue careers in agriculture, so we always have a strong network of farmers in the U.S.

6. Teaches About Natural Resources

This type of education can teach students about natural resources and their importance. As a result, they can discover ways to preserve said resources, helping support the environment. As population levels rise, sustainability in agriculture becomes highly necessary.

7. Educates on Global Agriculture

Students can learn about global agriculture through agricultural education programs. These programs inform them about the issues affecting agriculture worldwide, which can lead to them choosing careers that would help address those issues.

8. Increases Food Appreciation

When students learn about farming, they develop a greater appreciation for food. If they have hands-on experience at a farm through their agricultural education program, they’ll realize that food is a reward earned through hard work — it doesn’t simply appear in grocery stores. Children who grow to appreciate farming and having access to food are often less likely to waste it.

9. Encourages Physical Activity

Many elements of agriculture are physically demanding, and students can only truly learn about them if they experience them. Farming activities can increase students’ stamina and endurance and encourage teamwork through various projects. These activities also help students enjoy the outdoors and appreciate nature.

10. Combines Knowledge From Other Studies

Education in agriculture is one of the few disciplines that combines knowledge from other studies. For example, students apply topics from geology and ecology as they learn how various plants thrive in different climates. They utilize biology, physics, mathematics and chemistry when learning about crop plantation and harvesting. As a result, they can put their knowledge to work.

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