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*Prepared cards, containers, and labels are included in the Source Search kit, which is available for purchase from agclassroomstore.com.
career: an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress
Many people have the misconception that farms simply provide us with raw produce and other foods. In reality, agriculture also provides us with a wide variety of raw materials from which we are able to make clothes, books, cosmetics, medicines, sports equipment, and much more. Students may not realize that the items they use every day come from resources that are found in the environment. These resources are either extracted from the natural world through industries such as mining, or they are used in agricultural production. Most students don’t recognize the origins of the products, and they think of the sources of these products as factories or stores. It is important for students to understand that before an item ever enters a factory or store, it began as a resource or product of the natural world.
What is agriculture? Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary states that it is “the science, art, or practice of cultivating the soil, producing crops, and raising livestock and in varying degrees the preparation and marketing of the resulting products.” Although accurate, this definition does not capture the scope of career opportunities related to this “science, art, or practice.” Goods produced on farms must be processed and made available to consumers. This processing links farm production to fork consumption, fabric fashion, home construction, and transportation as well as creating numerous by-products that are used in manufacturing (e.g. plant and animal products used in paint, adhesives, medicine, paper, batteries, etc.) The Merriam-Webster’s definition provides only a limited glimpse into the number of careers that support farm production.
During the next five years, US college graduates will find good employment opportunities if they have expertise in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, or the environment. Between 2015 and 2020, there are expected to be 57,900 average annual openings for graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees in those areas. Almost half of the opportunities will be in management and business. Another 27% will be in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Jobs in sustainable food and biomaterials production will make up 15%, while 12% of the openings will be in education, communication, and governmental services. These projections are based on data from several sources. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts a 10.8% increase in the US labor force between 2012 and 2022 due to job growth and openings from retirement or other replacements. Employment opportunities in food, agriculture, renewable natural resources, and environment occupations are expected to grow more than 5% between 2015 and 2020 for college graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees.1
Agriculture is a big “career umbrella.” While an agricultural career may not involve working directly on a farm, the “fruits of your labor” may be linked to farm production though the processing and manufacturing of farmed goods and provided services. The agricultural sector of our economy is made up of people who help us all to meet our basic needs. Is it possible to have an ag-less day? No! And with global populations growing, agriculture will need critical thinkers and problem solvers who can help people to meet their basic needs with limited resources. Agriculture is science-based, high-tech, and offers a variety of career possibilities, many of which will be explored in this lesson.
Activity 1: Source Search
Concept Elaboration and Evaluation
After conducting these activities, review and summarize the following key concepts:
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Utah Agriculture in the Classroom