Sunday, January 4, 2015

5 Things Agriculture Students are Tired of Hearing

Here at my lovely, land-grant university we have an entire campus and a few hundred surrounding acres dedicated to research and education in agriculture.  Why? Well, because the AGRICULTURAL INDUSTRY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT INDUSTRY- just in case that's not obvious. Not to discount the value of doctors, lawyers, teachers, etc., but without agriculture, those careers and those people's lifestyles wouldn't be possible. Bearing that in mind, for some reason, many people- my fellow classmates included- look down upon, scoff at, or don't understand people who study agriculture in college. So, whether you're one of those people, an agriculture major, or somewhere in between, here are the top five things I've heard when people learn that I am or my friends are pursuing a degree in Agriculture and why they're absolutely ridiculous. 

  1. What are you going to do with that degree? Farm?
    • While farming is a very respectable and underrated career, that's not what all agricultural majors aspire to do. Some of us want to be lawyers, scientists, business men and women, speakers, activists, teachers, leaders, veterinarians, game wardens, 4-H agents, food safety technicians, etc.- the list goes on and on. (Yes, you can be an agriculture lawyer.) 
    • "But wait, most of those sounds like 'normal' jobs."
      • Yes, we fill most career paths you could think of, but we focus on an industry that fuels, feeds, and clothes the world and is close to our hearts. 
  2. Why can't you just take regular business, communications, writing, biology, etc.?
    • On my campus, the college of agriculture is the fifth largest college in the university but gives out the second largest amount in scholarships. So, extra money is a plus, and many big agriculture companies give out thousands of dollars to agriculture majors. 
    • I love agriculture and enjoy being around people who share the same passion. 
    • Again, agriculture is the backbone of our world; I want to be a part of it.
  3. Why would you need a degree to farm?
    • Refer to #1.
    • For those of us who do aspire to farm for a living, it is insanely more complicated than it sounds. Soil typing, hybrid selection, chemical usage, yield maps reading, business management, mechanic work, and basic medical care of animals are among the many facets of a farmer's job description.  A lot of knowledge of biology, chemistry, economics, and mechanics is necessary to be successful in farming, and the science of farming is always developing thanks to those of us described in #1. Therefore, farmers MUST be continually educated, and a formal degree can be quite helpful. 
  4. Why don't you study something more meaningful, difficult, on your level, etc.?
    • Hello! What could be more meaningful than feeding, fueling, and clothing the world? And, if you refer to #3 obviously nothing in agriculture is as simple as it may seem. I personally have had someone who knows I am an honors student discover that I am also an agriculture student say to me, " Oh, well you're not like most ag. majors." Really?! What is that supposed to mean? Many Ag majors are also honors students. Our Dean of the College of Agriculture even provides money for us to meet together, take retreats, and get help with our research projects.
  5. Oh. (With a sideways look)
    • I get this a lot. Mostly because the person doesn't understand what my major is, and that's OKAY! It's fine to ask questions, just don't undermine my degree or career goals. 
I hope this list helped if you were confused about us Ag people, gave you some laughs if you've had these things said to you, or answered some questions. Next time you eat, put on clothes, or fuel up your car, thank a farmer, an Ag teacher, a 4-H agent, a bio-technician, and a soil scientist. Also, consider majoring in Ag! It's one of the best decisions I ever made. :)