California Educator

April 2015

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P H O T O B Y S C O T T B U S C H M A N A F U N N Y T H I N G H A P P E N E D on the way to work, Holly Egan tells visitors. At 7:15 a.m., a call from the district's transportation office reported that her school's bus driver had seen 15 bulls strolling down the highway. She immediately called her husband and son to round up the escapees and bring them back to the ranch. "In a small town, everyone knows everyone, including the cattle," says Egan. She's an agriculture instructor at Lassen High School, which serves a rural student population in Susanville. Her classes include ag biology, ag economics, and the art of floral design. Egan is also the adviser for the school's chapter of Future Farmers of America. And then there's the family business of raising commercial cattle and farming alfalfa. Agriculture is more relevant than ever, and that's no bull, asserts Egan, Lassen Teachers Association, who has little patience for those who underestimate its value. "If you want your children to eat and your grandchildren to eat, agriculture is very important. Our population is expected to climb to 9 billion by 2050, and now we're at approximately 6 billion. Who's going to feed everyone?" Cultivating students by Sherry Posnick-Goodwin Profile Perspectives 21 V O L U M E 1 9 I S S U E 8 It bothers me... that the typical American doesn't understand what we do today, and that the next 30 years in agriculture is going to make or break our country and influence the world. One California farmer feeds 155 people in a year. Of those, 30 are overseas. So we not only feed ourselves, but people in other countries. To be "ag literate" is to understand the influence that agriculture has on society. I guess you could say that's a huge basket of information. What's cool about ag biology is... it is very hands-on, where students learn by doing. Curric- ulum follows state standards and satisfies the life science requirement for UC and CSU. And there are great job opportunities in agribusiness — not only farming and ranching and ornamental horti- culture, but also in marketing and sales. It can be a great career path. People shouldn't be scared... of genetically modified plants or selective breeding of animals. For example, you don't have to put a pesticide on corn if it has been genetically modified with a component that keeps insects from attacking. It's just moving DNA from one plant to another. Through natural breeding of chickens, they grow faster and use less feed. A chicken you buy in the grocery store today eats half of what a chicken did in the 1950s and yields more meat through selec- tive breeding. Plants and animals need to become more efficient so we can feed our society. Future Farmers of America is... more than just about raising animals. We also focus on leadership and personal success. We go all over the state and sometimes to the Midwest to attend conferences. After being in FFA, some students go out and start their own business or find em- ployment in the ag business. And floral design class... is not just flower arranging. It actually meets the art requirement for going to a university. And it's fun, too. IN HOLLY'S WORDS No Bull! a n d t h a t ' s

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