Students Jump into the Brave New World of Agriculture

January 26, 2015

Fewer folks live "on the land," but more people than ever are involved with agriculture and food production. The future success of agriculture lies in the hands of a younger generation, and opportunities abound. Vocational agriculture classes, FFA, 4-H, and other organizations lead to dynamic ag programs in the nation's universities. 
 
As one old-timer said, "In school I learned how to read tractor operation manuals, how farm loans are supposed to work, and how to chew tobacco without teachers catchin' me. My real learnin' came on the farm."
 
Sixty-five years later, agriculture education has changed. Some learn hands-on techniques, but the modern curriculum involves heavy doses of science, tech, and communication. Agriculture graduates become business entrepreneurs, scientists, community leaders, and food producers. In an era when farmers must deal with GPS devices, on-board computers, and robotic milking parlors, courses need to be flexible. 
 
Eleven of the nation's top agriculture schools belong to CAST's education program, and thousands of high school students have access to CAST information thanks to a grant from WinField (a Land 'O Lakes company), and thanks to the editors at NAAE (National Association of Agricultural Educators). 
 
Our member universities represent active, influential ag/science programs: Iowa State Univ., Kansas State Univ., Mississippi State Univ., Texas A&M Univ., The Ohio State Univ., the Univ. of Arkansas, the Univ. of California-Davis, the Univ. of Florida, the Univ. of Kentucky, the Univ. of Nebraska, and the Univ. of Nevada-Reno. 
 
Instructors have asked about using CAST material and Friday Notes for research projects or class assignments. Individual high school and college students have contacted us about ag-related research. We encourage this. Our Ag quickCAST publications have been especially popular, and the CAST website offers lots of material available for free download. 
 
For the younger generation, there has always been an Internet--social media, precision ag, and "drone-mania" are with us whether we want it all or not. Forward-thinking ag education will ensure that future food production is in good hands.