Mar 042010
 
Authors: Robyn Scherer

It’s interesting to me how detached most people are from agriculture yet how much these same people are interested in it.

Don’t believe me? Check out how many people are on Farmville, a game through Zynga Games that is widely popular on Facebook.

As of 11 p.m. on Wednesday night, Farmville had 83,105,118 monthly active users. That is an astounding number.

Why is this? I think it comes down to our basic natures. We all started out as farmers and ranchers, and deep down we feel that connection, even if we don’t actively participate.

I have a lot of friends who are in agriculture, and they know what the life of a farmer is really like. I also have a lot of “non-farm” friends who suddenly, because of Farmville, think they are the new experts in agriculture.

“You mean it doesn’t take only four hours to harvest blueberries?” they ask me. No, sorry it does not. Games like Farmville can help people feel more attached to agriculture, yet these games miss out on a giant opportunity.

This is the opportunity to educate people about agriculture. One of the biggest problems I see in this country is a lack of education. People do not know where their food comes from or how it even gets to the grocery store.

They don’t know that their juicy steak started in the middle of the night when a rancher checked his or her cattle. That rancher then had to raise that animal, feed it, care for it and send it to be processed into the meat on your plate.

Most people today have no idea how hard farmers and ranchers work to provide them with food and games like Farmville can help teach people about agriculture.

I think it would be great if Farmville had a “daily question” that helped people to learn about the food around them. You could find out the time it takes to raise blueberries or many of the other crops that Farmville offers.

I see this desire to be involved in agriculture in more than just games like Farmville, though. Agri-tourism is one of the newest, growing industries, and it’s widely popular.

People pay money to go out with a rancher and brand calves, participate in a cattle drive or help with daily chores around the farm. People jump at the opportunity to visit a farm, and most are completely enthralled when given the chance.

This gives me hope. As people become more and more detached, the trend for agri-tourism will continue to rise and people can get the “agricultural” experience without ever having to become a farmer. This will help increase the knowledge of agriculture.

I hope that people who come from non-agricultural backgrounds start to consider agriculture as a possible career. There is no other feeling than sitting in the middle of a field in the middle of the night and smelling the clean air and seeing the stars. Those who live in the city may never have that experience.

Farming and ranching is a much harder job than Farmville makes it seem, but it is an incredibly rewarding one. I love the nights when I stay up all night farrowing (the term used when a pig gives birth) pigs.

I don’t mind getting up at 5 a.m. to bale a field of hay. I like knowing that what I am doing is helping other people, whether it is feeding them or helping them feed their own animals.

How many of you have jobs that you can say this? I help to feed the world. I can, and I’m proud of that.

Robyn Scherer is a senior animal science, agricultural business and journalism and technical communication major. Her column appears Fridays in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to letters@collegian.com.

 Posted by at 4:55 pm

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