Our Thoughts On Agriculture Today.
Posted by Edward Romero on December 1st, 2010
Photo by Pave M.
Thanks for your patience. It’s been way too long since my last blog post, and yet, you are gracious enough to stop by and read this latest post. For those of you who follow, thanks for the continued support.
For those of you who just stumbled into the AgForLife blog for the very first time, I would encourage you to sign up with the RSS Feed, which you can find at the upper left part of the page. For those of you who read my blogs (when I post), share it with your friends. Post it on Twitter. Share it on Facebook. Help me get the AgForLife name out there.
I am not even sure where I should start since I have so many things I want to say, but here we go…
Since my last post, I have traveled, moderated a panel for college students from all over the country, started a new project, which we will be announcing the first quarter of 2011, and yet, I feel like I have let all my readers down by not posting religiously like I was told I should.
So be it…not because I don’t value those who support AgForLife, but because I am not the typical blogger who posts at designated days or times of the week. I believe you should blog when you have something important to say or share, not just blog because it’s “cool” to do so like the zillion other bloggers posting on the internet with useless content.
I, like many others, subscribe to a number of different blogs that I read often, for the most part, when they publish their blogs. In doing so, I am going to do something I rarely do – endorse someone who inspires me.
Chris doesn’t even know me. We’ve never met. He doesn’t even know I exist. But Chris is an inspiration to me. Chris talks about different things but for the most part, his blog is centered around three areas: Life, Work, and Travel.
Oh and did I mention, he helps people take over the world. (His words, not mine!)
You see, he’s traveled to 150 countries and counting. No, he’s not an inspiration because of his travels. He’s an inspiration because his writes about The Art of Non-Conformity. Yeah, that’s right, non-conforming; unconventional methods of work.
Chris defines nonconformity as “a lack of orthodoxy in thoughts or beliefs” or “the refusal to accept established customs, attitudes, or ideas.”
In his blogs he writes with “the conviction that you don’t have to live your life the way other people expect you to” which is refreshing and inviting. So many blogs out there are about status quo.
He also writes about entrepreneurship and unconventional work and stresses the importance of having fun while the work is meaningful.
And of course, he talks about his travels.
The real reason his posts are such an inspiration is because when we first started AgForLife, people doubted us. They didn’t or couldn’t see our vision. Some people still can’t. People didn’t have faith in us. Even today, many people don’t think our approach is logical. And that’s okay.
I got tired of sharing our strategy. I got tired of people telling me it couldn’t be done. I countered…I think it can! So we set out to try and make a positive impact in the agricultural industry. I can honestly say, when I finished my doctorate, I never thought I would be the person in the driver’s seat. I naively thought someone else was already doing what we thought should be done. But I guess I was wrong.
We’re not there yet, but everyday we move a little closer to achieving our business goals. I can’t tell you when we’ll get there, but I know everyday opens many new doors and those who are serious about helping, continue to find us.
You see…I am a realist at heart, but an optimist to the core. Today, I rarely share my strategies with anyone outside my support group, unless people are serious enough to want to learn more. I am told to ignore people who tell me “you can’t.” I think my supporters are right on!
So why am I telling you about Chris? Why am I telling you about my story?
Well, it’s simple. Chris is an inspiration because I believe like he does. I have come to the realization that I too look at unconventional ways at approaching a problem. I guess you can say I am a non-conformist at heart. I see unconventional ways of approaching established customs or ideas in agriculture from a student recruitment perspective. The approach we are taking is unconventional – no doubt – but damn sure meaningful.
According to Jeffrey Gitomer, “every obstacle presents an opportunity, if you’re looking for it.” I think he’s right.
The challenge I am talking about is the lack of students entering agriculture and the many related fields of study available in many agricultural colleges across this country. What’s even more sobering is the lack of minority students considering agriculture.
Where are they? Is any one addressing this issue? So far, I’ve yet to find anyone who dares say they do.
In 2008, only 1.49% of undergraduate students of the 16 million plus ENROLLED (not graduated) in 2-year and 4-year schools in the U.S., were studying agriculture or some related field. That’s a measly 251,000 students.
In that same year, of those 251,000 students in agriculture or some related field, only 4.5% (11.535) were Latino or Hispanic and Black student enrollment was not much better at 5.6% (13,972).
Is this a problem for agriculture – absolutely – especially with the rapidly changing demographics? Is there an opportunity here to help out – you bet! As we continue working on our business model and product development, I am confident we will be able to make strides in helping students see the many opportunities in agriculture. It will take time, but I think we can do it, and in the end, we all win!
After all, Chris Guillebeau in his blog, The Art of Non-Conformity says we can; and that is good enough for me.
About the Author: Dr. Edward W. Romero is founder and manager of AgForLife, LLC. He is passionate about recruiting more students into agriculture and believes the agriculture industry offers awesome opportunities for young people. You can follow him via AgForLife, LLC on Facebook or Twitter.