5 Reasons Why Every Highland Student Should Take An Agriculture Class

Abby Endress

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Deciding which classes to select for the upcoming semester can be an extremely difficult challenge for many college students. In addition to the credits that are required in order to graduate with a certain degree, each degree requires students to choose a number of classes to earn their elective credits. Those elective credits can be earned through a wide variety of classes in a number of different areas of study such as life science, mathematics, fine arts, humanities, among others.

Agriculture is one area of study that provides a large assortment of classes, which may be applied towards the elective credit count that students need to graduate with their degrees. Currently, there are ten different classes available for Highland students to choose from for the upcoming 2018 spring semester in the Agriculture and Agriculture Occupations categories. There will a different variety of classes available next fall as well.

So, why agriculture? While there are countless reasons as to why students should take an agriculture course in their college careers, listed below are just a few reasons why Highland students should consider signing up for an agriculture class this spring.

1. Become a more educated consumer.

By learning about any one of the topics that the classes offered address, students can expand their knowledge of the agriculture industry. In turn, students can apply this newfound knowledge towards their everyday lives.

For example, when I took the Introduction to Field Crop Science class, which will be offered this spring, I learned the fundamentals of crop production, from start to finish. I also learned the process that crop producers utilize to feed the world, while staying environmentally conscious and stimulating their local economies.

In Agricultural Economics, students learn about different commodities in the agriculture industry, how they are set, and how supply and demand works. After learning these processes, students are better able to understand how the market works, which is knowledge that can be utilized and applied throughout various instances in students’ lives.

The knowledge and experiences that students walk away with after taking an agriculture class can be applied throughout their lives so that when they are deciding which products to purchase, they can make educated decisions.

2. Experience a hands-on learning environment.

Hands-on experience is a major component of agriculture classes. For example, in the Introduction to Field Crop Science class, students have the opportunity to go on a private tour of the facilities of Adkins Energy, a local business that uses corn, often from local producers, to produce ethanol and biodiesel. The Adkins Energy tour was just one of many hands-on experiences that students were able to experience in that class.

Nicole Simler, a sophomore at Highland, took Introduction to Field Crop Science last spring. “We [the class] went to a few different fields and looked for different weeds to identify during the weed identification of the course. We also were able to fly a drone over a field.”

Many of the labs that are associated with the classes allow students to practice different disciplines associated with each class. In the Artificial Insemination class, students get to practice what they learn in class on live animals.

If students are looking for a different classroom experience, an agriculture class may be just what they are looking for.

3. Connect with local producers, businesses, and agriculturists.

 Many opportunities are presented through the Highland Agriculture Program for students to make local connections within the agriculture industry. For some classes, trips to tour and learn more about local businesses provide students with an opportunity to expand their connections.

Much like the tour to Adkins Energy, the Introduction to Animal Science class tours a number of local facilities including a meat processing plant such as Eickman’s Processing Co. in Seward or a local dairy production facility such as Hunter Haven Farms in Pearl City.

Recently, Penny Groezinger of the Pearl City Elevator visited an Ag Club meeting to inform students of upcoming internship opportunities available for students. Additionally, other agriculture companies such as Growmark, an agriculture supply cooperative, send representatives to visit during a number of agriculture classes to inform students of internship and scholarship opportunities available through their companies.

Connections made through these businesses and with these producers and agriculturists may lead students to find internships that may turn into their future careers.

4. Learn from experienced instructors.  

To further the appeal of the agriculture programs being offered at Highland even more, both Mr. Justin Ebert and Ms. Monica Pierce, Highland’s agriculture instructors, have firsthand knowledge of the topics that they teach to their students. Mr. Ebert was raised on a beef farm and raises a small herd of beef cattle on his farm today. Ms. Pierce, who also comes from an agriculture background having been raised on a grain and dairy farm, enjoys growing her own vegetables in her garden at her home.

5. Try something new.

Whether or not students are majoring or minoring in an agriculture-related occupation, students should consider the benefits that an agriculture class may provide them in their future endeavors. When deciding which classes to select for the upcoming spring semester, students should take a look at the classes being offered in the agriculture department.

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5 Reasons Why Every Highland Student Should Take An Agriculture Class