FarmLife FIVE: Learning About Ag

Ag school enrollment, managing resources and growing demand for food.

By Amy Bickers

A Growing Field. Agricultural programs are increasing at U.S. schools. For instance, at Iowa State University last year, the agriculture college surpassed an enrollment record set 35 years before; while at the University of Connecticut’s College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, enrollment has more than doubled since 2004.

More Mouths to Feed. Perhaps that growth is due to predictions that agricultural productivity must increase 70% by 2050 in order to keep up with population growth.

High School Prepwork. Tony Small with the FFA says it’s easier than ever for students to start preparing in high school for college coursework and, ultimately, a career in agriculture. The National FFA Organization developed the Agriculture Career Network (AgCN) to help students determine interests, track progress and connect to career opportunities. The system is connected to resources such as CareerCruising.com and AgCareers.com that can help students identify internships.

Off the Tractor. Agriculture majors often have a heavy emphasis on science and math, yet at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, agricultural economics students also study international trade, product pricing and resource preservation. As demand for food grows, those working in the agri-food industry must understand management of agricultural resources.

Farm to Table. At the University of New Hampshire, students can study all the steps along the way from farm to table and their ecological impact. The EcoGastronomy program emphasizes sustainability, hospitality management and nutrition. Sustainability and ecological impact also are a major part of the organic agriculture program at Ontario Agricultural College, where students learn about environmental health and livestock systems that are socially responsible.