Taylor Corley, Campus Carrier editor-in-chief
Mar. 23 is National Agriculture Day, a day that encourages Americans to celebrate producers, agricultural associations, corporations, universities and government agencies that contribute to American agriculture.
National Ag Day is organized by the Agriculture Council of America (ACA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing awareness to the role of agriculture in modern society. The ACA hosts widespread campaigns each year and provides programs and planning guides for communities and organizations to follow.
According to agday.org, the annual programs are intended to help people understand how food products are produced and acknowledge career opportunities in the agriculture, food, fiber and renewable resource industries. The programs also emphasize the role agriculture plays in maintaining a strong economy and providing safe, abundant and affordable products.
The ACA emphasizes in their programs that the best way to partake in the National Ag Day is by helping to spread the word. On Mar. 23, Berry’s Alpha Zeta chapter hosted a showing of “Food Evolution,” a documentary that explores the controversies surrounding the topic of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). According to the club president, senior Anna Naguszewski, the film examines all of the ways scientific studies pertaining to GMOs have been used and abused on a wide public scale.
“Our goal was to provide an opportunity for the Berry community to ‘feast on the facts,’” Naguszewski said. “We wanted to provide a chance for our audience members to gain a deeper understanding of GMOs and their benefits as well as the misinformation surrounding them through the presentation of nonbiased facts.”
Alpha Zeta is not the only club participating in Ag Week, as related activities will continue throughout the week. Berry’s pre-vet club, a group that is active in promoting education about animals and veterinary medicine, is hosting an event on Mar. 25 where students can learn about sheep.
“For this event we are setting up a table on Krannert Lawn where people can learn all about sheep,” pre-vet club president, junior Bethany Jackson, said. “We wanted to teach people about sheep for our Ag Week event because often students don’t even know we have sheep on campus.”
According to Jackson, part of the reason she wanted the pre-vet club to get involved in Ag Week festivities is because she wanted other students to be exposed to how agriculture affects the Berry community prominently and directly, and how they can transfer that knowledge and education about agriculture to their careers after graduation.
“We hope the people leave our event with a new interest in agriculture,” Jackson said. “I think lots of people love the animals and the outdoors but don’t realize the variety of jobs that are available relating to animals and the outdoors.”
Career opportunities in agriculture include farm production, agribusiness management, agricultural research, food science, processing, banking, education and urban planning, according to the ACA. Berry offers opportunities for students to gain experience in these types of careers by allowing students to work at places like Rollins Dairy on campus.
“Our dairy provides milk that is turned into cheese and sold back to our community through the Jersey Milk Student Enterprise,” team leader, junior Sarah Mason, said. “I am very thankful for the opportunity to work at the dairy and as a part of the Jersey Milk Student Enterprise as I am able to see not only the production of the raw materials, like the milk, but I am also able to see the contribution it makes to the community through our cheese sales.”
According to Mason, getting to experience this process first hand is important to her because she believes that agriculture is one of the driving forces of society.
“All roads lead to agriculture,” Mason said. “Without farmers there would be no food or fabrics and we would be left hopeless.”
This year, National Ag Week is Mar. 22 through Mar. 27. The ACA calls on those interested in getting involved to send letters to local newspapers, call Congressional representatives and share information and the educate others about the benefits of agriculture.