March 18, 2012

Getting agriculture into the classroom

I grew up with multiple connections to agriculture. As the son of a veterinarian, I looked forward to riding along on farm calls to help care for sick or injured farm animals.

The smells of disinfectant, silage and cow manure became the aromas that today bring back memories of the experiences that filled my childhood. I watched the birth of dozens of calves and held untold numbers of milk-fever treatment bottles above my head while the IV slowly dripped.

On top of that, I had two uncles who were dairy farmers. Summers and vacations were spent in barns full of cows, riding tractors and poking around every nook and cranny of old barns and rocky pastures.

Learning about farming and agriculture wasn't a chore back then, it was an adventure.

Today's youth rarely have the opportunity to experience agriculture the way I did.

With fewer and fewer kids growing up on working farms, there is less opportunity for the hands-on education that was more common in the past. If you had relatives who farmed, chances are likely that you would be recruited for summer haying, helping with milking chores and learning about how much hard work farming takes. In today's world, this lack of personal connection has made it harder for youth to understand and appreciate how farmers produce food and fiber.

And because most farms today are owned by individuals or family businesses, it is much harder for them to share their stories and have a voice in the education of today's non-farming majority.

Introducing agriculture as a topic in schools across New York has been the mission of the New York Agriculture in the Classroom program since 1985. Agriculture in the Classroom is a partnership of Cornell University, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, the New York State Education Department, Cornell Cooperative Extension and the New York Farm Bureau.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers strive for sustainability

    Conserving the land and assuring long-term profitability are two of the key goals for farmers these days, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    April 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Watch out for farm machinery

    Accidents on roadways involving farm vehicles can be avoided with a little bit of caution, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Better bulls improve beef quality

    Artificial insemination can be used to get the most from a beef-cattle herd, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Healthy environment good for farming

    Best practices and conservation are top priorities for modern farmers, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    March 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Planning for greener pastures

    While it can be time consuming and costly at first, good pasture management pays off in the long run, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    February 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Chicken raising has rewards

    Many people interested in growing their own food supply may enjoy this hobby, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    February 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg A season for learning

    Crop Congress at Miner Institute just one of the opportunities available for farmers to keep up with the latest information, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    January 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Farmers getting information in different ways

    The Internet ushered in a whole host of conveniences that farmers can take advantage of with little effort, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    January 5, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Animal husbandry important in winter

    Keeping animals comfortable during cold weather is only one responsibility of caring owners, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    December 22, 2013 1 Photo

  • Hagar_mug1.jpg Taking care of business

    Year's end is a taxing time for many area farmers who have to keep track of all their own finances, according to columnist Peter Hagar.

    December 8, 2013 1 Photo