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The Education of a Farmer

As the history of human civilization has unfolded, it has become clear that providing food security for fellow humans is one of the great moral issues of current times. One way to make food security sustainable is by having adequately trained farmers to take over from the retiring workforce of farmers in order to provide food and resources to people. National studies have found that fewer youth are educated as farmers by growing up on a farm. This has resulted in there being more responsibility put upon the private and public sectors to educate/train farmers, including colleges and universities. This report evaluated how the University of Massachusetts – Amherst trains/educates farmers and evaluates how well the university provides future farmers with a well-rounded agricultural education. The main research question that this report seeks to answer is what policy interventions, if any, could strengthen the education and training that students receive. Four alternatives were presented: 1) Status Quo – no changes to the current system that is focused on classroom learning with some hands-on learning 2) Internal improvements by making the curriculum more well-rounded in regards to the three circle agricultural education model 3) Private Partnerships for educational opportunities and 4) Public Partnerships for educational opportunities. In order to assess these four alternatives 15 students and faculty members related to agriculture at UMass – Amherst were interviewed and external organizations were researched in order to recommend the best alternative. What this report found was that the University of Massachusetts – Amherst’s current agricultural curriculum could use improvement due to the agricultural curriculum having too much of a focus on classroom learning and not utilizing all of its available resources. The Stockbridge School of Agriculture UMass should work on internally improving their program in order to make their agricultural education curriculum more well-rounded to include more class offerings, better utilization of current resources and more experiential learning opportunities. While the most costly of the four alternatives, this alternative has good political feasibility as it is an alternative that the university is currently looking at. Partnerships could also be used within this context. However, this report found that outsourcing education to third party entities would be detrimental to the university as a stand-alone option.
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