Rushing into Ag/Ed in a Major Way

These past few weeks have been a whirlwind of changes as I start my junior year here at Iowa State University—it’s also the start of many new adventures. Over the summer I made the decision to change my major to Agricultural Education. Not only am I really passionate about this major change (no pun intended), I also realize this is an unknown area for many.

So What’s the Difference Between a Cow and a Heifer?
Hannah (rt) and roommate Kelsey off to class.
Two weeks ago, I came to college early to take part in primary recruitment with my sorority—a time when we prepare for taking on a new group of members, a weeklong event most commonly known as “rush.” As the days passed I was able to share some great conversations—a sister from California wanted to know the difference between a cow and a heifer. She was shocked when I told her that if we were cattle, we’d both be heifers. “I’d be a HEIFER? Well then what’s a calf?” she remarked, and then we talked about animal terminology for a while—don’t get me started about trying to explain steers and bulls. She didn’t want to hear about how that change occurs.
Another sister from Des Moines elaborated on how she wants to own her own sheep farm and then use her fashion design major to make clothes from the wool of the sheep, “I want to help people understand where their clothes come from; it’s something that I think is very important.”
Sororities often get stereotyped one certain way, but my sisters come from a wide variety of backgrounds; we are all different in our own way. We have chemical engineers, interior designers, animal scientists, fashion designers, elementary educators, and many agricultural majors like myself. Even though we have a wide a variety of majors, there are things we can all learn from each other.
During some of our conversations I was asked what I wanted to do with my major? It made me think for a minute, because to me when I say I’m an agricultural education major, it seems pretty self-explanatory. I told my sisters that I wanted to teach—but many of them didn’t know that I could teach agriculture in a high school setting, mainly because many of them didn’t have agriculture education programs in their own high school. I was able to take this time as an opportunity to talk to my sisters about agriculture and explain my passion for this industry.
From the outside looking in, agricultural education makes a lot of sense for students like myself—ones that grew up on a farm and had a direct connection to agriculture. However, agricultural education goes far beyond the bounds of “farm kids.” Agricultural education, as a part of broader career and technical education, allows students to apply knowledge that they have gained in other classes to a real-world environment with what is called the 3-circle model:
1)             Classroom Experience (taught by an agriculture teacher, which is what I am aspiring to be)

2)             FFA (national organization with a mission to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success) 

3)             Supervised Agricultural Experience (hands-on work/experiential learning that allows students to take what they have learned in the classroom and apply those skills outside of the classroom).

These three components make agricultural education truly unique because it empowers all students to succeed in a changing world by creating lifelong learners. The cool thing is that there are many careers in agriculture—over 300 defined careers—and that number continues to grow. Agricultural education doesn’t just set you up to be successful in an agricultural career—it sets you up to be successful in life.
So as my junior year kicks off this week, and my classes in agricultural education begin, I know that my passion for this career will grow as well—along with a desire to learn, to teach, and to connect with others from different areas. I’ve been told by many people to never rush into something, but when you know you’re rushing into a career of agricultural education—who can stop you? 
by Hannah Pagel

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