The class was fortunate enough to take a field trip to the Hoober Tractor dealership. I, unfortunately, didn’t make it to the field trip but I did get to talk to some of the other students about the experience and looked at some of the pictures. Hearing about how impressive the machinery was in person and they even got the opportunity to sit in the tractors and experience the auto-steer. Technology like this may seem like small leaps to most but it is allowing for tremendous progress within the industry. By continuing to make advancements like this to the tools used in agriculture, we are simultaneously bettering the quality of life of farmers and other workers in the industry while also continuing to increase yields and efficiency. Hoober and many other companies are constantly furthering this progress by implementing constant innovation into their products.
Mark Davis presented a guest lecture on the horse racing industry and went into further detail about its history in Delaware. As he went into a brief history lesson about the industry, we learned that British settlers brought the sport to America in the early 1600s and began on Long Island. We also learned that Newark Delaware had its first horse track opened as early as 1760. The industry has been a large part of the area since the very beginning and now generates around $182 million a year in Delaware alone and has a yearly average of $102 billion impact on the U.S. economy. With this much money being generated it is slightly less shocking to learn statistics on the demographics within the industry. He explained the inaccuracy of the common misconception that the horse industry is reserved for the wealthy. In reality, the industry has participants from all walks of life. Along with the money generated and crowds it allures, the industry also offers a wide range of jobs and in the small state of Delaware, the industry is reported to support over 1500 jobs. It is always interesting to have working professionals come and speak to our class because the insight they can offer to us is always endless.
Taking the tour around the UD farm was great. Driving over the bridge every day you see the small plot of crops but I had never realized how big the farm was and how many different things they were working on. Getting to visit a research farm was really interesting and it was such a great opportunity to great such an in-depth tour. I felt like this tour really opened my eyes to a new field in Ag and seeing how meticulous they were on the farm was amazing.
One thing we learned about was the milking process and the care they take for their cows. I think anyone who thinks it’s wrong to use cows for milk probably has a different idea of what they are actually doing than reality. They talked about the measurements they take to ensure not to much milk is collected and how they are constantly assessing the health of each cow. This is not the picture painted by negative media but this first-hand learning can really clear things up for a lot of people.
Dave’s speech on Agricultural industries and businesses was a lecture I think anyone studying in Ag in college and anyone interested in the field should listen to. He talked about a lot of the different job opportunities that are available in this field and also went into the facts behind a lot of media misconceptions. Myself wanting to work in agricultural research really appreciated the discussion about the different scientific jobs but I also really liked how he dove into the facts about a lot of current issues. When you hear someone from the industry explain the reality behind so many viral social media subjects, it’s amazing how far things can get blown out of proportion. I think if more people looked even one level deeper than a facebook post or talked to real people like dave, there would be way fewer misconceptions about the industry.
During class, we had Tracy Wootten and Valan Budischak come and talk about a lot of the different work being done constantly with horticulture. They spoke about all the different kinds of work that can be done in this field of study and the importance of each job. It was really interesting to hear about all this work that is being done in our community all the time that maybe goes unnoticed but has serious importance. They talked about how horticulture is used for highway and railroad maintenance whether it is to create a better aesthetic, pest and invasive species control, or safety. Water quality was another large industry impacted by horticulture and it makes sense when you learn about it but it seems like something that people don’t usually think about. They also discussed greenhouses and other commercial grow operations for flowers and other plants and all these jobs really broadened my view of what you can do with an Ag degree in the workforce. Hearing Valan Budischak’s path to get where she also goes hand in hand with all the new opportunities their presentation presented. Her graduating in business and working with Black N Decker to then end up in the Ag school here at UD was a great story and shoes how intertwined the industry is with others.
This was a really well thought out and intelligent speech done by Mark Lynas. In this speech, he talked about a lot of points but the thing that stood out the most to me was how explained that he was wrong. He began by talking about how he had previously tried to fight a lot of the progress being made because he believed things needed to be changed but after learning more about the issues he realized that he was wrong and then openly talked about how he was wrong and then went on to endorse the things he used to fight against within the industry. This is an extremely important thing to commend because it shows a lot of things that more people need to think about. One, while fighting for something he deeply believed in he still considered the possibility that maybe he was wrong or didn’t know all the facts. Two, when confronted with the new information he did not double down on his old beliefs but instead dug deeper and sought out the truth and the whole story. Three, he realized he was wrong and changed his ideas. The fact that he did these three things and on a huge stage is something everyone should take note of because this is how it’s supposed to be and if people did this more, we would have much fewer problems and much more progress.
One of the key points that really stood out to me in this document was the knowledge gap about gene editing. In one of my other classes, we were just learning about this and how the gap between people who think gene editing and scientist who think gene editing is safe is large than the gap between people who think climate change is fake and scientists who think it is real. This is a significant problem when it comes to progress because there is a lot more people who don’t know what there are talking about and are denouncing something while at the same time the people that are spending all their time working on it are saying it is good. This causes significant limitations to problems and can be fixed with the thing everyone has with them all the time. If people used their internet access to learn about issues before they spoke out against something, we could be moving along at a much better rate.
Mr. Adkins talked about irrigation on farms and a lot of the different methods. This was a really interesting lecture to me because it went in-depth into a lot of the engineering of different farms and the advantages and disadvantages of different systems. He talked about how a lot of these systems work and why they are prefered in different regions. I really enjoyed this topic because I didn’t know how many different options there were for irrigation. This topic always seemed to be an overlooked process to people that aren’t experienced farmers but it is actually probably the most important. Getting to learn how much engineering and thought has gone into getting water to farms in certain areas and how to effectively combat different weather conditions on a daily basis was a great lecture to listen to.
It was great to hear Ed Kee come and speak to the class again. This lecture was focused on general information about California and Iowa’s massive agricultural industry. Learning about these states was very interesting and was cool comparison after all that we have learned about Delaware. Being from and spending most of my life within Delaware as definitely kept my perspective confined to the state in a lot of ways and after getting to learn about California and Iowa it was great to see how other major ag states function. California has developed really interesting water systems in order to combat their dry climate and I feel like this is great to learn about as we continue to watch our own climate change over long periods of time and may need to start thinking about these other methods. It was also neat to learn about how Iowa is for the most part dominated by the Ag industry. Ed Kee talked about how proud the people are to be farmers and how much of life is involved in the industry there. Both these states had so large differences compared to Delaware but also so similarities so it was great to learn so much about these states I previously knew almost nothing about.
Recently the class had the former secretary of agriculture come and speak about the history of agriculture in the area but also touched on some state perspectives when it comes to national farming. Having that different perspective come and talk about some of the thoughts and ideas that go with agriculture on a nationwide level was another great subject to learn about. Delmarva being what he referred to as a foodshed really brought things into a different light and made me think about the importance of our small state’s contribution. He also provided more in-depth history about where agriculture has come from in our area and painted a picture of where it is going. One of the most interesting things he talked about in my opinion was the young farmers program where young qualified individuals can receive large amounts of support from the government to get new farms up and running. Insights like this can definitely help grow the industry and inspire the next generation of farmers.
Having Ms Michelle talk about the relation between social media and agriculture was a very informative and interesting topic. It’s clear today that there is a lot of misinformation in the media but I had no idea how much of it was affecting farmers. I feel like it was also interesting to hear about her path to her career today as it is a great example of how you never know where you may end up but to go into every job enthusiastically and working for the job you want as opposed to the job you have. As someone who will be finishing college soon, I like hearing about how many people bounced around between jobs and fields before landing on their particular
Getting to hear more about the chicken industry from Miss Georgie is something more people should have the opportunity to do. She is able to provide so much insight into the realities of past, present, and future farming with clear unbiased information. I felt like the guest lecture really left with me with a much better understanding of the industry and a more realistic grasp of how our food is actually being made. She also talked about some of the challenges facing farmers today and possibly in the near future which is an important subject for young people to hear as these issues are not typically talked about in the political climate and when they are, they are usually accompanied by a biased and non-factual point of view.
The importance of agriculture is immense and Miss Georgie is really able to shed light on it not only for future farmers but for people of all walks of life. With so much media today, more time needs to be spent talking about the importance of agriculture and the facts surrounding it as she covered during the guest lecture. This lecture really resonated with me and broadened my understanding of agriculture and the industry.
Getting to go visit a local poultry farm in person was an awesome experience. Learning about all the ways chicken farmers have been able to create a better product though healthy and efficient ways was a very eye-opening experience especially with all the negative news and social media surrounding the field recently. Being able to see first hand how the chickens are cared for and hear an actual farmers side of the story could really clear up a lot of misconceptions anyone might have. For me, the opportunity to go see what kind of techniques are used and the work being done was great because it gave me a greater insight into not only what that avenue of life might entail but also where my food comes from.