On of the problems I see with Ag education at the community
(or technical) College level and at the high school level, as well,
is separating the coursework into subject matter areas - soil
science, animal science, entomology, etc. and studying these
subject areas as if they occur in isolation. I believe more
efforts need to be made towards an integrated, systems approach.
A certain amount of basic information needs to be presented dealing
with a given subject area, but then students need to get some
appreciation for how the pieces fit together.
As one working in the area of integrated pest management, it
is important to realize how one production practice (say
fertilization) can affect such things as disease susceptibility,
insect vulnerability, maturity, etc. The concept of sustainable
agriculture involves a systems approach dealing with cropping
systems, integrating livestock production with crop production,
etc. These are the ideas we need to get across to ag students as
well as the nuts and bolts of producing a given commodity. It may
be a different (non-traditional) way of thinking about ag.
While we're on the subject of ag education, there needs to be
some awareness of agriculture taught to all students, whatever
their major. With fewer and fewer people involved in production
agriculture, it becomes more important to make sure everyone knows
where their food and (some) fiber come from. That way, maybe some
of the policy makers will have some understanding of how their
decisions will affect farmers and agriculture in general, and
ultimately the quality and quantity of the food (and fiber) supply.
These are just my thoughts - I'll be glad to entertain any
comments or be more specific on anything. Some of these things may
involve re-writing or at least modifying the typical ag education
curriculum. But, hey! You asked for comments.
Area Specialize Agent, IPM
NC Cooperative Extension Service
-- Marjorie Rayburn E-Mail : mrayburn@chowan Internet: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone : (919) 482-8431