Cooperative Extension from Our Youths Point of View
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One of the most useful and important skills that I have learned in my professional career is perspective. Perspective is important because it allows you to look at things from a point of view other than your own. Asking high schoolers about what cooperative extension is to them, did just that!
How this activity came to be was from a school assignment. My twin sister, Rachel Adams Kersey, teaches Agriculture at Central Cabarrus High School. One of the first units she teaches is careers within agriculture. She took that unit and made it an opportunity for her students to interview actual people within those careers. The students asked the career professionals a variety of questions. These included; What field of agriculture we are in, why we chose that certain career, what was the education requirements for that career, what would we tell people interested in joining our field, and what does our day-to-day operation look like. After students got responses from their interviewees, they were to write up a report with their findings.
I was interviewed by a couple of Rachel’s students. I answered each of their questions in detail and it was up to the students on what to include in their report. One student wrote that,“… I imagine it would be embarrassing to not have an answer to a question the first time it happens. This job seems like it would make horticulture more accessible to beginners which will help the field grow in the future. This job seems to be very rewarding, being able to help the community improve and helping individuals improve their horticulture practices.” after she learned what a day-to-day operation looks like as a horticulture agent.
This student also visited our website and read one of my articles titled, “What’s Wrong with my Leyland Cypress?” After reading this article she wrote, “I learned that those trees need to be planted 10-15 feet apart to avoid having to compete for resources and bagworms are the most common pest for that tree.” This student ended her report by saying, “I learned that extension helps the horticulture community by answering questions and problem solving directly with the farmers.”
Generally, the students that I was interviewed by were not familiar with the Cooperative Extension Service. By doing this assignment, they were able to research and learn about Cooperative Extension and what it does for their county and for agriculture. From their perspective, the students said, “Cooperative Extension is a helpful resource that can be used by farmers”. From the point of view from our youth, it is exciting to know that they perceive Extension as being a helpful tool and I hope these students plan on using Extension in their future!
Cooperative Extension is here to help and educate whether you are a farmer, grower, homeowner, or someone who is just genuinely curious. N.C. Cooperative Extension, Contact Caldwell Center at 828-757-1290 or visit us online anytime.