Jason Parrott’s guest on Emphasis is Dr. Wendy Wintersteen, who is the Dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Iowa State University. They talk about the past, present and future of agriculture education.
The word, agriculture, tends to conjure up images of a farmer harvesting corn or soybeans and raising cattle or hogs.
Dr. Wintersteen says that imagery is changing, though, because agriculture now encompasses anything related to food, feed and fuel.
“It goes beyond production,” says Dr. Wintersteen, “to the associated manufacturing, to the processing of food products, to food science to bio-renewables.”
She says a colleague always says that anything someone can make out of oil, he can make better out of corn and soybeans.
Dr. Wintersteen says one of the biggest changes in agriculture education, over the last 40 years, is that there are now women studying agriculture education.
“When I was studying at Kansas State University, I would be the only woman in many of my classes.”
Dr. Wintersteen says one of the other significant changes is that about 40% of the students in ISU’s agriculture programs have never seen a farm before coming to Ames, IA.
She says they are there to study agricultural science.
“Our faculty has done a great job of helping them feel comfortable with the terminology and taking them on field trips so they can see what they are studying in the classroom.”
Dr. Wintersteen says only a small amount of students come to ISU to be a farmer, but she says the percentage has grown in recent years because young people want to go home and farm with their families.
She says more students from the east and west coasts and from overseas are coming to ISU to study agriculture.
She is excited about the future of her profession, given continual advancements in science and technology.