Monday, November 18, 2013

Day 18: A Cause For Concern

It seems that the weeks of rising early and going, going, going are starting to wear on me. I'm not complaining, just apologizing in advance for the lack of epic awesomeness in the following post.

Today an individual asked me if this ----------------->
was used for sows. Now this person has a degree in Animal Science and is working on a Master's in Swine Nutrition. I had all I could do not to smack my forehead in awe. But I politely stated that no it was used for cattle.

I am concerned about the Agricultural programs at universities. The example above is a poor one because the student is not from the US, but I have noticed my fair share of inadequacies in Animal Science and Agricultural classes.

It is a cause for concern because the majority of students in Animal Science programs are female now. And the majority of those are pre-vet majors. Now  I don't care what everybody has told them but they are not all going to make it TO vet school, let alone through it, let alone making it as a respected veterinarian.

We were extremely lucky in Wyoming because the professors have a very hands-on, practical use, mindset. They want the students to actually DO the things they are being taught. But I've noticed here in Kentucky that the opportunity for as many hands-on activities is limited. The unit managers aren't as happy to have people underfoot who aren't working there. The largest problem is the lack of funding...not to mention that funding for Animal Science and Agricultural programs have taken some very serious hits nation-wide (some places more than others) which is unfortunate because these programs are seeing increases in the number of students.

Especially increases in the number of students who have little to no animal experience and especially no agricultural experience. City kids most would call them. Now I can't say that I wasn't missing a large chunk of knowledge, especially when it came to pigs and crops when I ended up in the Animal Science program...but if I had never been afforded the opportunity to APPLY what I was learning in the classroom to a real-world situation, then I'm not sure I would really have learned much of anything. The best way to learn how to farm or ranch is basically to do it.

We used to make fun of CSU because they didn't have any pigs. We would get kids up for the practical portions of the Academic Quadrathalons that had absolutely no idea how to give a pig a shot or what processing a piglet entails. As Dave used to say "It's a sad day in the world when you can graduate with an Animal Science degree and never touch an animal."

It seems like such a disservice to students, universities, and future employers not to give a college student all the opportunity they could possibly need to learn as much as possible.

I think it would be a great idea to have every student graduating with an AnSci degree or even an Ag degree be required to rotate through farms throughout their time in college. Even if they have experience in Ag or a specific species of livestock, it would be fantastic for them to gain extra outside knowledge. It never hurts to see how other people are performing tasks or making decisions...eventually it comes in handy. The problem would be getting a program set up that would allow farm and university cooperation...not to mention finding farms that would allow a never-ending stream of obnoxious college students to filter through. This is another idea that requires some more thought, but there has to be a way.

I'm determined to find a way to make sure that practical experience sees a revival in Animal Science degrees. If only so that there are absolutely no students who mistake a headgate as something useful in restraining a sow. How can we educate others if we don't have a clue ourselves?

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