Teaching about agriculture in Iowa is an ideal way for students to learn what their state is all about and provide real-life connections to science, math, and social studies concepts. Agriculture is one of the topics that students can easily connect to because they can apply concepts being learned. After all, who doesn’t enjoy talking about food? Nearly everything we eat, wear, use — even the fuel that powers the cars and busses they ride in — comes from plants and animals grown on farms. Agriculture themes provide perfect real-world connections to STEM and make learning relevant to students.
Students can make connections to the curriculum through agriculture, but additionally it is important for everyone to understand the source and value of agriculture as it affects our quality of life. We rely on the food and fiber system every day. Here are your top 12 reasons to teach (and learn about) agriculture:
- Agriculture has transformed in the past 100 years. Agriculture has transformed in the past 10 years. With advances in technology, agriculture and natural resource management is more than ever a science-based human activity that is developed and applied for the public good.
- Since the domestication of plants and animals, humans have been experimenting with genetics, types of soil, climate, production practices, and harvesting to meet the needs of a growing population.
- Agriculture provides the food supply needed for survival, growth, and health for both humans and animals.
- Major factors in food choices have been cost, culture, convenience, and access and/or availability.
- Americans have become more interested in how food is produced, its nutritional value, agriculture’s impact on the environment, and the contribution agriculture makes to the local economy and landscape.
- Consumer demand ultimately influences what is produced and how it is processed and marketed. The global movement of agricultural products continues to be driven by economics and consumer demand and preferences.
- The U.S. food supply is considered the safest in the world, but safety issues still exist. Everyone who handles food in any form should know the basic safe food handling practices.
- Agricultural development has relied on evolving scientific understanding, engineering processes, and the application of both to develop innovative technologies to save labor and increase yields. The science and technologies applied to agriculture and food rival the science and technologies applied to medicine.
- Only 1% of the U.S. population make their living on farms and ranches. However, more than 21 million workers or about 15% of the U.S. workforce to support farm and ranch production, processing and marketing. The fact that 1% of the population produces for the other 99% is a real achievement!
- The U.S. agriculture industry annually produces about $159 billion toward GDP, netting a positive $37.4 billion trade balance.
- There will be an estimated 54,000 annual employment openings in the agriculture, food and renewable natural resource sector. There are only about 29,000 students—a 45% gap—graduating in directly related degree programs.
- Our quality of life is dependent upon the continued development and appropriate use of science and engineering to provide an abundance of safe, healthy, nutritious food, fibers, and the fuels necessary to sustain the needs of a growing world population.
So, is agriculture important? We think so!