Careers in agriculture sometimes get a bad rap in our society. Many people see farming and the pursuits related to it as “quaint” or “rustic.” They often say that farmers and ranchers live “the simple life.”
But the truth is that, every day, farmers and agriculturists are tackling and solving some of the world’s most complex problems; and, these problems are often related to the very survival and well-being of all humankind.
Take Norman Borlaug, for example. Dr. Borlaug was born on a farm near Cresco, Iowa, where as a child he often pestered his parents and grandparents with questions. He’d often wonder aloud why the grass was greener in some areas of the farm than others.
This curiosity led him to become an expert in plant pathology. His expertise eventually helped him to prevent mass, worldwide famine in the 1960s.
Dr. Borlaug was tasked through the Rockefeller Foundation to take a job in Mexico trying to help farmers improve their crops. Upon seeing the desperate situation Mexican farmers were in at the time, he wrote in a letter to his wife:
“These places I’ve seen have clubbed my mind — they are so poor and depressing. I don’t know what we can do to help these people, but we’ve got to do something.”
And, he did do something. He spent hours in the hot, Mexican sun manipulating tiny wheat blossoms to cross different strains. This was just the beginning of several crucial innovations made by Dr. Borlaug and his team. The new, high-yield varieties of crops resulted in more, much-needed food the rapidly growing world population. Today, it is estimated that half of all people throughout the world consume grain descended from one of high-yield varieties developed by Dr. Borlaug and his colleagues.
Though Dr. Borlaug made great strides in curbing world hunger, its still a problem today. That’s why at FFA, we value innovation. The solutions to our current and future struggles are out there, and are waiting to be discovered by this generation of future farmers and agriculturists. As students of agriculture, we need to be open to possibilities and to new ways of solving age-old problems. It’s the key to a better tomorrow for us all.