As a parent, there are many boxes to check when this time of the year comes around: Clothes – check! School supplies – check!

No matter where your children attend school, they all should receive a quality education. For most reading this column, some of your children will acquire that plus essential ag knowledge to help the family business.

Jaclyn Ryan, an agricultural educator, Future Farmers of America advisor and 2015 Virginia Teacher of the Year, said about the importance of agricultural education:

“Agricultural education should be in every school, but it isn’t. The importance of our curricula spreads further than the classroom – we need agriculture to survive. If you eat, you need agriculture. If you wear clothes, you need agriculture. If you take medicine, live in a house or write with a pencil, you need agriculture.”

Top Five Most Common Farm To School Activities:

  • Serving locally produced foods in the cafeteria
  • Promoting locally produced foods at school
  • Holding taste-testings or demonstrations of locally produced foods
  • Conducting student field trips to farms or orchards
  • Using smarter lunchroom strategies to encourage consumption of local foods

To Ryan’s point, we highlight that importance in our September issue in two ways. Our cover story written by Tamara Scully focuses on growth of Farm-to-School programs that have been implemented in more than 5,200 school districts around the country. Initiatives such as this are bringing the world of agriculture to groups of students who may have never thought of it otherwise. Also in our issue, contributor Rebekah Fraser shares the progress made with farm bureau programs that are helping young farmers with their professional and personal growth.

That sentiment is growing nationwide. In July, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National FFA Organization have collaborated to help young farmers reach their full potential via agriculture education and become better advocates.

“Ag education is the cornerstone of where we reach these young people and how we begin to get them excited, how we begin to get them knowledgeable about careers in agriculture, and how we prepare them to be the next generation of leaders in ag,” said Mark Poeschl, CEO of the National FFA Organization. “The fact is that in 30 years we have 9 billion people in the world that we have to feed, and this is the group of young people today that are going to be the ones that help all of us figure out how we’re going to do that.”

I’m from the school of thought that you can never have enough education in your life. If you are not learning, you are not living. That’s what keeps me going in my life. I hope it’s a tenet of yours. If you feel you’ve learned enough, then you should probably pass your knowledge to the younger generation.

That is the concept we strive to communicate through these features, and the tips and practices shared in FARMING. Education is a vital tool to strengthen any industry and especially agriculture. It moves everything forward and ensures that you will leave the industry better than it was before you entered.