by Hannah Rogers
Livestock, an unusual site on campus, and peers ready to give them an agricultural education welcomed Texas A&M students this morning. Led by Farmers Fight, a student-led movement dedicated to promoting modern agriculture, the event included more than 200 agriculture students stationed at displays across campus. Even the Texas Aggie yell leaders came to pump up the crowd with the appropriate yell, “Farmers Fight!”
Farmers Fight hopes to reconnect American society to the world of agriculture. Beginning with Texas A&M University, Farmers Fight encourages consumers to ask where their food comes from, and give people an opportunity to become “agvocates” for the agriculture community.
Freshman agricultural economics major, Mason Parish founded the group after realizing there were a lot of misconceptions about agriculture on the Texas A&M campus. Parish recruited many of the college’s organizations to unite to tell the story of agriculture.
“Texas A&M was founded on a land-grant university mission, the Morrill Act, and that has allowed us to have a strong agriculture foundation and we want to make sure to follow through with that and keep agriculture in the forefront for all of our students,” Parish said.
The campus-wide advocacy day included booths around campus educating and engaging students at A&M. The booths represented the diversity of fields in agriculture: from organic farmers markets, animal agriculture, food technology and the fashion industry.
The group’s goal is to promote the positive image of agriculture and educate people to understand that agriculture is not how it is often portrayed in the media, said Cera Southerland, a junior ag communications major and Farmers Fight advocate.
“It’s not caged animals being treated unfairly and its not poor farming conditions, people and farmers work hard everyday to produce their crops to provide food for the world and we want people to know that,” Southerland said.
In its first year, Farmers Fight has gained the support of faculty members, including the college’s Associate Dean for Undergraduate Development Dr. Chris Skaggs, the Aggie yell leaders, and hundreds of student volunteers.
Caroline Black, director of development for Farmers Fight and an agricultural leadership and education and communications graduate student, said it has been a chance for College of Agriculture and Life Sciences students to spread their story to their peers.
“To me its been an opportunity for the students to wake up and to become passionate if we aren’t already,” Black said. “I have had a unique opportunity to have hands-on experience with this movement for ag advocacy.”
Farmers Fight comprised three phases:
- “Training the Advocates” conference on March 21st, where leading industry professionals trained students to be effective advocates for agriculture.
- “Community Outreach” included the Ag in the Classroom educational event where we shared agricultural coloring books with 1st grade students in College Station elementary schools.
- “Campus Connect” represented the campus advocacy day on April 12, 2012.
The college strives to afford students the opportunity to create their own voice about issues surrounding their passion, said Dr. Danielle Harris, assistant dean for student success and advisor of the group.
“Farmer’s Fight is a powerful example of how students can bring attention to issues affecting them and their communities,” Harris said. “We are pleased to see this student led effort as a means of support to the national effort led by USDA, Texas Department of Agriculture and other agencies in promoting agriculture.”
“Farmers Fight Ag Advocacy Day has been beyond our expectations,” Parish said. “Every one of our advocates participated today to tell the story of agriculture and educate every one of the students here at Texas A&M. It’s been an amazing experience from start to finish.”
If you are interested in learning more or getting involved, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.