Just a few weeks ago I moved into a college dorm and went to my first college class. Although all my classes are in St. Paul, I chose to live in Minneapolis to branch out and learn more about the different colleges at the University of Minnesota. What I wasn’t expecting was the disconnection I see of agriculture and those around me up here at college. If I was counting on fingers how many times I have had the opportunity to share what agriculture is and why it is prevalent in everyone’s lives, well I would need a couple more people to help me out.
Earlier this week I had the opportunity to speak with the Commissioner of Agriculture Thom Peterson, Deputy Commissioner Vaubel and Assistant Commissioner Bailey. Early in the conversation, it became quite evident that one thing everyone in the room viewed as something we need to focus on is getting more people involved with agriculture. One thing I talked about was the disconnect we see today of farmers and consumers. Especially in urban areas, where there is a shortage of agriculture education, we see that consumers aren’t sure what is happening on the farm and that is where we see misconceptions being formed. On the farmer’s and agribusiness side of things, we see jobs being unfilled year after year. While speaking with the Commissioners, I asked what we as FFA members could do to continue to reconnect society with agriculture and help push agriculture education to grow and flourish. As we discussed, two things stuck out to me. The first, as FFA members, we need to continue to be out in public showing the good works agriculture programs are doing. The more the public sees our blue jackets doing good works, the better chance we have at getting more support. This also means that we need to be working with other groups who can help us achieve our goals. Having connections with other groups allows us to branch out, get new ideas, and support each other when needed. The second thing that stuck out to me was to continue to push not only our students to go into agriculture-related fields, but also share what agriculture is with our communities and the communities around us. One reason so many jobs are being left unfilled is that potential candidates don’t think they are involved with agriculture, so they never fill out an application. If we can share how we all are affected by agriculture, I believe more people will start taking active roles in agriculture including applying for those jobs.
As FFA members, a lot of times we see ourselves as “just students”. But that’s what we are and that's not what this blog is about. This blog is to tell you the issues we are facing today and allow you to be a part of the solution. As FFA members, let’s be advocates for agriculture. Let’s be advocates for FFA. If we can speak proudly for the organization and field we are so highly involved in, we will see so much growth and see these problems disappear. Alone we can advocate for our causes. Together, we can create the future. Let’s go tackle these issues together.