Education and Awareness

Stop! Think! Engage!

I have been contemplating what to write for a while and decided to pull out my notes from the various seminars we have attended. I will share the quotes that really inspired me to stop, think, and ultimately to begin engaging. I hope you enjoy.

“Agriculture will be the last job standing.”

These six powerful words say it all. We, as a society, rely on agriculture to provide our basic essentials for life: food, shelter, fiber such as cotton, lumber, and paper products, and also finances through occupations, to purchase items we want. Agriculture provides 300 different careers and impacts a large number of non-agriculture careers.

“In the field of agriculture we are all different but at the same time we are all the same.”

Agriculture in Virginia is so diverse. We have the ability to successfully produce a variety of plants, crops, grains, nuts, fiber, vegetables, and fruits. We also raise numerous animals such as dairy, beef, poultry, horses, sheep, lambs, goats, pigs, and specialty animals. Virginia also produces forest and tree products and the list goes on and on. However, the bottom line is we all are agriculture, regardless whether we raise plants or animals, or turn the plants and animals into usable products, or market the products, or transport the products to places where the consumers can purchase the product and no matter what agricultural area it is grown.

“We must take our stories to the public about agriculture and share the passion that makes us who we are.”

As a middle school Agricultural Education teacher, the first lesson I teach my sixth graders is about Agriculture. I begin by asking a question. “Where do you get your food?” Now keep in mind that I teach in a very rural community. Agriculture is very visible to the students when they ride to and from school. The answers range from Wal-Mart to McDonald’s  Very rarely will I have a student that says their food comes from the farmer or from a farm. This really surprised me to say the least, but after doing some research and participating in VALOR program I am learning that most people have lost contact with where their food comes from. They may know that eggs come from chickens and milk comes from cows. But the hands-on experience with the production and processing of their food is very limited. Since the majority of the people are three or more generations removed from the farm, meaning that they, their parents, nor their grandparents have the occupation of a farmer. We, the agriculture community, must share our stories, experiences, and our passion. People need to educated to understand the amount of dedication, effort, resources, knowledge, skills, and true devotion it takes to get the product from the farm to the market for them to enjoy. Because Agriculture is not a 40 hours a week occupation or 9 to 5 career, it is a 24 hour 7 days of week career. There is no such thing as a holiday, sick, or personal days. It is just a fact of life.

“We must protect our heritage, our way of life, and ultimately our future because most people are at least 2 to 3 generations away from the family farm and do not have a connection to their food. We must nurture  to develop their passion for the field of agriculture.”

“People need to be educated to understand the amount of dedication, effort, resources, knowledge, skills, true devotion it takes to get the product from the farm to the market for them to enjoy.”

To be continued, “Agriculture is an investment for the opportunity of growth.”

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