I just had that moment.
It is a word we hear many times, especially as it relates to discussions we care most about.
I have used the word before, and could offer a solid attempt at describing what it means. Could I recite the actual dictionary definition, though? Nope! I decided to look it up, and I was actually rather disappointed. Now, allow me to explain. Don’t get me wrong. I am certainly not disagreeing with the dictionary, and absolutely agree that it is important to “support or recommend a particular cause” (which, in case you were wondering, is the definition). But, we hear many times how important it is to be advocates for agriculture and, in that use of the word, I think we are missing an important link: education.
One of my favorite books is The Man Who Fed the World by Leon Hesser. The book is a biography of Norman Borlaug, the Father of the Green Revolution. This man changed the world of food production and saved hundreds of millions of lives from starvation in the process. Did he do so by discovering a high-yielding variety of wheat, and then simply “recommending the cause?” Of course not! He educated scientists and producers around the world to utilize what he discovered.
The education that occurred throughout the years of the Green Revolution was two-way. Borlaug was constantly educating himself in his area of expertise – plant pathology and genetics – in order to continue making such incredible scientific advancements. He also knew that both modern technology and natural resources differed greatly in different areas of the world, and was constantly educating himself of the different needs. Knowing that he wanted his efforts to continue to expand, he worked to educate other scientists on his findings, and those scientists were willing learn more and accept these advancements. Producers were willing to become educated on this new method of production, and began to implement it into their own practices. Individuals around the world had questions, and it is through the questions that were asked and answered that Borlaug and those he worked with were able to revolutionize production agriculture and feed the world.
I was not raised in a family that earned its primary income in production agriculture. But, I was raised in rural America, around those who produce to feed the world and were willing to answer my questions. It has been through those questions and conversations that I have gained a true appreciation for the hard work, responsibility and stewardship of those who dedicate their livelihoods to agriculture.
Take that dictionary definition and place the word “education” within it, and allow true education to lay the foundation. Have questions? Ask them!