Americans and Agriculture

Americans and Agriculture

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Americans and Agriculture
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Agriculture is not all work and no play. Many advances can be made in the understanding of agriculture by making available a variety of methods to provide children with a hands-on experience and also educating all individuals about the importance of the practice. The ignorance of urban communities can be overcome with the help of organizations and people within the community. School visits, hands-on experiences, volunteers and organizations are just a few examples of the steps that can be taken to educate Americans about agriculture and close the gap between rural and urban populations.

Agriculture is the science and practice of producing crops and livestock. The primary aim of agriculture is to use the land to produce more abundantly to feed and clothe the world at the same time protecting it from deterioration or misuse. Humans had to improve agriculture as they became more dependent on food, creating a solitary evolutionary connection between plants and animals (Campbell and Reece, 2001). In this day and age, so many people have forgotten the authentic premises of survival. It is easy for some to believe that the grocery stores produce food and clothing is produced by shopping centers. These inaccurate presumptions are being made due to the lack of knowledge of how agriculture truly works. There are also significant differences in the levels of understanding between rural and urban communities.

As doubts of economic possibilities of farming and ranching continue to decline, the true farmer still respects their land and practices. The general stereotype of farmers and ranchers is poor stewardship. Historically, hunters and farmers were more interested environmentalists than compared with the liberal, urban vegetarians of today. However both share the same conditions for living and breathing. This creates confusion between needing and wanting within a typical household (Kingsolver, 2003).

An easy answer to the problem is to provide proper education. Educating the young is the best way to get a point across and ensure that the America of tomorrow is less ignorant than the America of today. Children are eager to learn new things and are the best tool to promote agriculture (Robinson, 2005). There are many methods that can be made available to people of all ages, especially children, to increase their knowledge about agriculture.

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Parents can take the initiative in educating their own children about agriculture. Field trips can be taken to different farming communities in the area to provide a hands-on experience. Moreover, clubs and organizations in the community, such as FFA and 4-H, can help to involve interested children in agriculture. "It is vital for children to see first hand what is going on in the countryside and to have respect for it. Farm visits like this will stick with them through school and beyond, but they do need repeat experiences," says Peter Hearnshaw, the coordinator of FACE— Farming and Countryside Education (Robinson, 2005).

A farmer and agronomist named Andrew Melton realized one day just how little the local citizens were educated about farming. He felt he needed to be the one to promote farming in his British community. Not only were the citizens lacking knowledge about local crops, but also about the environmental processes that affect agriculture. These concepts are very important when aspiring to understanding agriculture. Without the knowledge of these processes there is really no possible way one can fully understand the way that agriculture works.

If it does not work to take the kids out of the school, bring the farm to the kids. Children of Glashieburn School in Aberdeen, Scotland were surprised one day when a “mobile farm” showed up on their playground at school. This mobile farm known as C-Cow—Countryside Classroom on Wheels, was designed to promote greater knowledge of farming and the countryside for children and their teachers. The trailer is separated into three different sections, creating display areas for different animals. A workshop is available for teachers linking the school with local farmers. A curriculum is also designed for the children to go along with the experience. Jeannie Price of the RNCI—Royal Northern Countryside Initiative, designed the project. She states, “The C-Cow isn’t intended as a substitute for a visit to a working farm. It’s more of a tastier experience if you like, but the exciting thing about all these resources is that so many areas of the curriculum can make use of them. Geography field trips, art work, consideration of land use and environmental issues can all come into it (Clapham, 2003).” Promoting the importance of agriculture is much easier to accomplish when organizations get involved.

The Agriculture Division of Fort Berthold Community College created a program with children involving feeder lambs for a tribal community in Fort Berthold, North Dakota. Originally, agriculture was a traditional practice within the tribe until the Garrison Dam was constructed in 1956 forcing them to move away from the lowlands of the Missouri River. The Tribal College Extension Program of the USDA—United States Department of Agriculture provides funding in the form of grants to make this possible. Children between the ages of six to fifteen are encouraged to participate in the ear tagging, vaccination, and shearing processes of the sheep. They can help out anytime with feeding and chores if interested. They are also given responsibility of training their lambs to prepare them for shows that involve leading with a halter and teaching lambs to “set up” properly, or stand square when still. Children are not the only ones who get involved in this project, however, adults are also eager to lend a helping hand and share previous knowledge (Erickson, 2003).

Rider Lydia Sage-Chase volunteers to educate the children by sharing stories of her grandmother and the uses of the wool they collect from the sheep. She informs the children that wool from the sheep is used in moccasins as padding for their feet on the inside of the shoes. She also takes time to allow the children to send thank you cards during cultural art lessons to all the people who made the program possible. In return for their hard work and responsibility, the children compete in the North Dakota State Fair’s Montrail County Achievement Days. Not only is a higher level of responsibility achieved, but also a sense of self-accomplishment, patience, and sportsmanship. To reward the children for their hard work, the tribal community ends with an awards celebration, a show, and a picnic (Erickson, 2003).

Agriculture can be a fun experience and very rewarding at the same time. If the youth are educated properly today there will be more respect and understanding for the farmers and ranchers of tomorrow. It is an extremely important topic for Americans to understand. Without the art and science of agriculture in producing products for human use and/or consumption, society would not be as functional as it is today.
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