Monday, May 02, 2005

Cows N Plows At The University Of Maryland

At the University of Maryland, it seems that there are an awful lot of city kids studying agriculture lately:
As an agriculture student at the University of Maryland, [in College Park] Mike Sheer learned anatomy by looking at livestock. He studied business by figuring out how to make a goat farm profitable. He even proposed to his college sweetheart by surprising her with an engraved horseshoe.

Yet he has never driven a tractor or baled hay.

And he hails not from a rural enclave in western Maryland but the well- groomed suburb of Columbia, where he played soccer and will return in May to begin a white-collar job at an environmental firm.

Two decades ago, Sheer, 22, might have stood out among the farm boys at the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. Today, suburban honors students such as him are typical.

Maryland and some other agriculture colleges have found an unexpected source of salvation: a surge of interest from students in the cities and suburbs.

By retooling its curriculum, Maryland's College of Agriculture has managed to keep its enrollment fairly level at about 900 students for the past decade, at a time when even well-known agriculture schools in the nation's heartland are struggling.

Pennsylvania State University has seen enrollment in its agriculture classes drop from a peak of 3,200 in the early 1970s to about 2,100 today. At Ohio State University, fewer than 5 percent of graduates go into growing crops; the majority pursue careers in residential construction, landscaping or veterinary medicine. The University of Nebraska is considering renaming its agricultural college because its fastest-growing majors are turf science and golf management.
With some two million acres of agricultural land being lost each year, it seems that there aren't a large number of children left living down on the farm, and most of the ones that are still there want careers outside of farming.
For the latest edition of The Carnival of Education, please click here.

Main Page/Latest Post