Tricounty News

Agricultural education: not just for farmers

Think back to when you were a high school student; what things were the most memorable for you? What lessons made an impact and helped shape who you are today? My most memorable learning experiences were in an agricultural class. Those classes I took in high school helped shape who I am today and what I learned from those classes will stay with me my whole life.

Many of us don’t realize the importance of agricultural education for students and the community, the impact it has on students’ education, and the careers and opportunities agricultural education promotes. Chris Sheehan, a former student of Kimball Area High School and FFA member explained “Agricultural Education is incredibly important. Food, fiber and natural resources impact all of our lives: from the food we eat, to the clothing we wear and the energy that powers our homes and cars.” Sheehan was an agricultural education teacher and FFA advisor in Red Wing for four years and now serves as the California state FFA Leadership Development Coordinator.

Students who are in agricultural education class have shown an increase in self-confidence, student engagement, and better time-management skills through independent workshops, community service, encouragement of creative thinking and an emphasis on leadership. Students have found that agriculture classes are more interesting and engaging than their regular classes. “Agriculture is farming, but it’s also much more. It’s veterinary medicine and plant science, horticulture and floral design. Its engineering and science, entrepreneurs and risk takers.” Sheehan explained.

Agricultural education implemented in high schools are important for society because as agricultural evolves, the need to keep students knowledgeable in agriculture becomes vital for the industry. From the National FFA Statistics Website, agriculture is America’s largest employer with over 23 million jobs and over 300 careers in or related to agriculture. With so many options available, it is important to have the public understand the industry so that it can continue to advance.

Not only do Ag. Ed. programs continue to change their teaching curriculum to meet the needs of the ever changing industry, it also creates awareness of food production and ways to be efficient in food choices. Agriculture affects all of us in our everyday lives. 

Agricultural education is a worthwhile investment in our schools and community. These programs not only help students become better as agriculturalists, they help them become better as people by giving them skills that they can use in their relationships with other people and any career that they pursue. “FFA in Kimball has a rich history. It changed my life, and continues to change the lives of students in our community” Sheehan said. “FFA taught me to be focused on my future, to set goals and instilled a sense of confidence. Since then, I’ve seen thousands of students go through FFA programs; I firmly believe in FFA’s mission and ability to develop premier leadership, personal growth and career success for the youth in its programs.”