Agriculture Emersion, putting Agriculture back into the educational curriculum? Has its time come? Kudos’s to Senator Ben Nevers, pursuant to concurrent resolution 64 of the 2013 regular session of the Louisiana Legislature.
When Rep. Stephen Carter, Chairman of the House Education Committee, asked me to serve on the Agriculture Education Study Group and to report the committee’s findings to the 2014 Legislative Session, I accepted the challenge.
My Dad was an Agronomy and Plant Pathology Major and graduate ofLSU, and he made sure that we had the knowledge and respect for Agriculture. So growing up in Shongaloo, my brothers and I were taught how to garden, raise hay and corn for livestock feed, raise chickens, pigs, dairy cows, beef cattle, planted pine seedlings and more. We were very involved in 4- H and FF A and my Mom and Dad displayed an equal interest in our club and chapter activities as well as our sports and academic pursuits. It, upon reflection, was a dream time of an era of the past. But should it be in the past?
Food is the foundation for life and quality of existence on this God-given planet. Nutrition for growth and health are the most important components of life for our well-being. Agriculture is the State’s NoJ industry, but what are we doing to protect and sustain it?
Agricultural Education, at one time, was the cornerstone of education in many parts of our state, but has faded out over the years. Some of the road blocks that the committee has faced is how do you emerge Agriculture back into education when the emphasis and recognition” status” of a school is built on high stakes testing, high tech and rigorous evaluations. Agricultural education would be like a non- credit elective, leaving school administrators and teachers with the dilemma of selecting and scheduling classes that elevate their performance standards .and professional attainment.
Economic development will jump through hoops to lure new industries to the state. Provide tax incentives and , establish educational training programs in order to develop a skilled workforce, of which I can say, that they have done an outstanding job. The state has catapulted in recent years and has climbed the ladder of desirability in almost every category that can be tracked and our state is reported to be a great place to build a business. We have great natural resources, energy supplies, transportation — rail. pipelines, and industrial road network — and a willing and eager workforce. So not to take advantage of our No.1 industry is like a sports team not playing its first string in the championship game.
Prince William, Heir to the Throne of Great Britain gets it. He literally has the Kingdom at his fingertips. He just came off of 8 years of military service and recently became a new Dad. Now he is going off to Cambridge to study Agriculture. He gets it! Food is not just the weapon of the future, it is the hope.
CNN on Christmas Eve recognized 10 Hero’s of 2013 in America. One of the recipients was Robin Emmons, a farmer from North Carolina. Her” ministry” occupation of farming is rapidly reaching out into the rural and urban neighborhoods. This dynamic and caring person is reaching out to the collective consciousness of America, one backyard at a time. Her message is that clean and healthy life-giving plants such as fruits and vegetables are the key to a healthy life style. She addresses the importance of nutrition and it’s impact and deterrent to the pitfalls of bad eating habits. Plus the bonus of cost effective food in order to meet the challenge of tough economic times. There are also many medical problems that good nutrition can eliminate and improve ones health. Robin’s leadership and example just could be the answer for many of us.
Finally, I must admit, that I do not know that we will resolve or have an adequate solution but I am praying that we will. What do you think? We represent the citizens of the great State of Louisiana and maybe,just maybe one of the readers,(bless you) will provide the study group with an inspiration or encouragement to fInd a reasonable and useful way to emerge Agriculture back into the educational process. Agriculture, our No.1 Industry. We are blessed to have Mike Strain as our Commissioner and the countless Agriculture professionals that fight the battle and meet the challenges of this industry each and every day.
Let the Community of Louisiana provide their support to the No.1 Industry of our Great State. Thank you for reading this letter and May God keep and bless you. Best wishes for 2014.
State Representative Henry Burns