Steve Fraze is Garrison Professor and chairman of Texas Tech University’s Department of Agricultural Education and Communications Department. In addition to his teaching and administrative duties, he has received many outstanding teaching awards during his time at Texas Tech. In addition, he has served in leadership roles for the profession and is the current associate superintendent of the Livestock Career Development Event for the National FFA Organization. He received his bachelor’s degree in agriculture Lubbock Christian College and his master’s degree in education from Texas Tech. His doctorate is from Texas A&M University.
OP-ED ON FILE
- A Vital Resource For the Future: Baccalaureate degrees in Texas Tech University’s College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources are key to providing the science-based expertise necessary to ensure economic viability. By Michael Galyean
- The Greatest Challenge Facing Agriculture: ‘If there is no guarantee the farmers can keep their land, then no farmer will be concerned with any long-term benefits from the land.’ By Kevin Redwine
- Career Opportunities in Agriculture: ‘We need professionals that can stand up for the agriculture industry to protect the quality of life for our growing society.’ By Lori Dudley
- Boosting Student Retention: CASNR’s Student-Centered Programs, Faculty-Based Advising Key Student Success By Rachel Bobbitt
- Dollars and Sense: The Long-Term Economic Value of Higher Education and Research By Eduardo Segarra and Sukant Misra
- A Historical Perspective: America’s Founding Fathers Established the Importance of Agricultural Education by Steve Fraze
- The Ties That Bind: Forging New Links from the Farm to Natural Resource Management by Philip Gipson
- Agricultural Research: Carrying the Water for U.S. Competitiveness by Darren Hudson
- A Global Priority: Education and Research in Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources by Sukant Misra
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CASNR continues to work toward becoming a national leader in teaching/learning, research, and engagement programs. It is currently operating under the Strategic Plan for the 2006-2010 time-period; with periodic revision of goals, objective, and strategies as deemed necessary by the CASNR Strategic Planning and Visioning Committee.
Longer-term goals for CASNR include 2,150 total student enrollment, $20 Million research grants per year and $80 Million in endowment by 2020.
A Historical Perspective:
America’s Founding Fathers Established
The Importance of Agricultural Education
By Steve Fraze
To address the current and future importance of agricultural education, we need to reflect on our history. George Washington declared the importance of agricultural education in his 1796 State of the Union Address when he said, “It will not be doubted that with reference either to individual or national welfare, agriculture is of primary importance.”
Thomas Jefferson’s unwavering image of the United States’ future prosperity was based on a nation rich in agricultural wealth. Such wealth, he imagined would yield worldwide respect and power for the young nation. Educating young American farmers to cherish agrarian culture was one of Jefferson’s endeavors. Jefferson wrote extensively on specific courses in agricultural study at the university level. And, he was one of the first in American history to promote agriculture as a post-secondary course of study. Jefferson’s agrarian ideals and educational writings fueled a growing movement toward federal creation of agricultural colleges.
By the early 1800s, agricultural schools were established in the Northeast, and in 1857, Senator Justin Smith Morrill of Vermont introduced the Land-Grant legislation. The Morrill Act was signed into law in 1862 by President Lincoln. The Morrill act provided for the sale of federal lands to establish and build a state college in each state with the intent to prepare graduates who were responsible citizens; engaged in the daily operation of their country; and producers, processors, and marketers of food and fiber.
Two additional notable federal acts still influence agricultural education today. They are the Smith-Lever Act of 1914, which established the agricultural extension service, and the Smith-Hughes Acts of 1917, which established federal support of vocational education in public secondary schools. Both federal acts still influence agricultural education as they each approach their 100 year anniversary.
Another milestone hitting the century mark is closer to home for those of us who are alumni, employees or students at Texas Tech University. Attend any sport function at Texas Tech and you will notice numerous fans wearing the red and black in support of the Red Raiders have the number 23 showing on their apparel. The “23” is for 1923 when the Texas Legislature established Texas Technological College. Two years later when the college opened its doors, it was made up of four different schools: agriculture, engineering, home economics, and liberal arts. At the time, agricultural education in the United States was 100 years old and the Texas Tech School of Agriculture was built upon those years of development and experience.
Looking at the future of agricultural education, we know that we no longer live in an agrarian society the way Thomas Jefferson envisioned it. I would contend that we can certainly label our country today as an agrarian dependent society. A majority of people still connect the term agriculture with production farming. In 1940, one farmer produced enough to feed an average of 19 people. In 2000, one farmer produced enough to feed 139 people. One of the primary reasons for the increase in efficiency is agricultural education.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that at least 22 million people in the United States work in one of over 300 careers that are agriculturally related. That’s one in five people who are employed in careers ranging from veterinary science to food processing and agricultural marketing to timber harvesting.
A hundred years ago, the popular agricultural topics were animal husbandry, rural engineering, and harvesting of crops. Today some of the critical agricultural topics include food safety, bio-fuels, animal cloning, and sustainable agriculture. One only needs to look back at our nation’s history and the role of agricultural education to realize that as we look to plan for the future, agricultural education is an important, if not vital, component of our education system.