Agriculture classes are becoming popular with girls, as they look forward to careers beyond the family farm including veterinary medicine.
40 years ago, most of the students in high school agriculture classes in Wisconsin were boys, who expected to run the family farm. Many of today’s students have never lived on a farm, but are in urban areas interested in learning about agribusiness and related fields.
“I teach a lot of vet science. I have a lot of kids who want to go into the agricultural sciences,” said Jan Hildebrandt, a teacher in the Eau Claire School District. “You are seeing that movement toward people raising their own food. The last five years that has been on a steady incline.”
There are fewer students growing up on farms, even in rural areas. For 14 years, Arica Kirkham has taught agriculture at Augusta schools. According to her, there is a move away from interest in large farms producing crops or milk.
“It is difficult to get into the production agriculture. The cost is one of the biggest factors. Someone coming fresh out of high school or college, who’s going to give them a loan to get into production agriculture? That’s probably one of the biggest challenges,” she said.