Too often at home we find ourselves focusing on our local program, maybe even neighboring programs, but not much broader than that. We get so caught up in our own lives that we forget we are part of a bigger picture. We lose focus of the rest of the state, and sometimes forget that we have great programs all across our nation.
And I'll admit, I've been in that situation before. I forget as a college student, that almost every state has a college with an Agricultural Education Major, and I forget that outside of my home state of Pennsylvania, there are some pretty amazing programs.
But Agriculture Education outside of the U.S.? I doubt many people even think about this, some may even doubt that it exists, but I tell you today; I have seen the Agricultural Education light.... AND IT IS GOOD! Since arriving in Korea, we have seen multiple high school agricultural programs, and two colleges that prepare future agricultural educators to teach in the classroom.
I know what your thinking, "Sure, it might be Agriculture Education, but does it compare to U.S.Agricultural Education?".
It sure does.
Students here have the opportunity to learn about a wide variety of topics in the Agriculture Education classroom including: Agricultural Mechanics, Small and Large Animal Science, a wide variety of Plant Science topics (landscaping, greenhouse horticulture, floriculture, vegetable/fruit production), even bio technology and food science. Not only are these students learning in the classroom, they are also getting hands-on education in the shops, in the barns, and in the gardens that they are not only working in, but are fully taking care of.
We found a New Holland tractor in one of the ag machinery shops
And let's not forget about college-level Agricultural Education. You'll find Agriculture Education majors taking a variety of agriculture
classes to have a well rounded background. Students here take roughly 140 credits throughout their college career (just like us). They also have a student teaching internship (just like us). Students in these programs are fully prepared to take on any classroom of agriculture students.
One interesting difference here is that students can also take a defined path throughout their college career that gives them a specialized focus in one area. Think you might like to focus on landscaping: there's a path for that. Maybe you're a large animal person: there's a path for that too. This option gives students the chance to be a master of a skill area, instead of just getting a brief glimpse of it.
Its interesting to look back at myself before coming to Korea. I'll be honest, through all the research I did, and even after attending the class we took for this trip, I didn't expect this. I figured we'd see a few greenhouses, and maybe some local agricultural products (rice, tea, etc). and I'll be the first to admit, I was wrong. We've seen gardens filled with some of the best tomato plants I've ever seen. Amidst the rice fields, I've seen dairy and beef farms dotting the landscape. I've seen ag mechanics programs that housed multiple tractors and combines. Just today, I saw greenhouses dedicated to just hydroponics and an agricultural high school dedicated just to equine science, housing 35 horses for students to ride and work with.
Looking back I was a fool to be so closed-minded about agriculture programs in Korea. I was crazy for not realizing that outside of the U.S., there are programs that could teach us a few things. And I'm anxious to continue my journey to find some of the best programs that this world has to offer.