Big (Green) Deal: Agricultural Education

Read an interesting article today where local agriculture teacher Nichole Hirt argues that her programs are much too relevant to abolish, regardless of how far removed students may be from actual farm life. I wanted to comment, not only because Nichole happens to be the daughter of a friend of mine (Hey, Michele!), but because I agree that kids should understand where their food comes from, even if that just means helping Mom and Dad with the small family garden in the backyard. And I think agricultural and environmental learning should be available to students well beyond middle school – I’m talking high school, college, and beyond… I’m talking free community classes for adults, because the learnin’ really should never end!

With all this talk of crunching numbers and cutting costs with New York State education*, it seems inevitable that the elective classes will be the ones that fall first. This is a shame for many reasons, not the least being that exposing kids to a variety of topics different from their day-to-day requirements helps to make them more well-rounded people! My high school was horribly lacking in the extra-curricular department, so once I got to liberal arts school, I took just about any elective I could, whether it had anything to do with my major or not. Those classes were fun, interesting, and a nice break from my graphic design courses. Not to mention that there wasn’t any major pressure to be at the top of the class, just to absorb as much as you wanted to – you got as much as you put in.

Actually, that sounds a lot like real life, doesn’t it?

*I say let’s start with NY senators’ salaries instead – now that’s wasted money!

Photo by Norm Johnston for the Watertown Daily Times

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