“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela
I have referenced this quote before. If you have read prior writings of mine, you will recognize this line from other writings I have done on the power of education. Our greatest and most valuable treasure is not gold. It is not power nor is it prestige. It is knowledge. How do we obtain knowledge? Through some form of educational process, whether it be formal or informal.
I want to discuss with you, in this post, about how a business can use this tool to make the world a better place. Namely, this is an idea that I have for a business that I operate. While many have heard of the crop production and value added product part of the business, there is a third part for the future – Research and Educational Development. In short, what this means is that my goal is to educate and expose people to agriculture through exposure and simulation based experiences through interactive mediums, such as interactive exhibits, writings and various forms of media. This wild idea has been dubbed by some as my Disney-esque dream. Beyond my family history and where I was raised, how did I become interested in agriculture? By being exposed to interactive exhibits at theme parks and at the Big E; by experiencing interactive rides and seeing audio-animatronic rides; by experiencing cuisines of other countries at restaurants; by readings stories and watching educational TV programming. These are all components that can be used to educate and inspire others in addition to the traditional classroom and “in-the-field” experiential learning experiences.
This idea was born from the fact that more people are born off and away from where their food resources come from – the farm. As such, there is less knowledge of how resources and food come to be and why among the public. There is also an issue of the rising age of the farmer. While many factors are responsible for this, lack of exposure to the industry contributes to this issue. How do we improve this situation? One solution is education. The model I have mentioned above can serve to educate the public and interested future farmers along with serving as a complement to a traditional education model by introducing and exposing individuals to agriculture. This can lead to potential interest and potential future study of the field and industry. Remember, our food and resources make up a few of our universal connectors in society. Much of our history of human civilization and cultures can be traced back to our agricultural roots and heritage.
Below, I would like to present a proposal that I wrote in regards to this idea as I crafted this section of my business plan:
“Throughout human civilization education, whether formal or informal; taught or self-taught, education has served as the greatest tool to enable human society to achieve and accomplish. Just as other areas such as athletics can teach us about ourselves, so too can agriculture. As one of the noblest of professions and of one of the most important as our food, resources and society depend on it, people should be more connected to agriculture and what it can teach us. Agriculture and farming consists of hard work that may not seem like a fun venture to learn about but it can also be fun and rewarding. Indeed, this form of education already exists to a degree with agri-tourism and agri-tainment. What I feel could be developed more are these areas. How do you make agriculture fun to learn and educational at the same time? By presenting the material in both a fun, entertaining and educational manner that shows the reality of the business along with the fun and rewarding side of the business. This can be done through exposure and simulation based education. You create an atmosphere and you expose people to the aspect that you are trying to educate about. A long term goal of the business is to help research and develop exposure and simulation based agricultural exhibits through in person and exposure based mediums that help educate people about what agriculture does for society. Really, the impacts of agriculture go far beyond the fields and what we put on our plates – it impacts how we act and function as a society as our communities are all defined by our access to food and resources
A question I ask is, what if you create a recreational and educational type of experience for agriculture? Walt Disney once said of Disneyland, “It will be a place for people to find happiness and knowledge. It will be a place for parents and children to share pleasant times in one another’s company; a place for teachers and pupils to discover greater ways of understanding and education.” This is the atmosphere that edutainment based agricultural exhibits aim to create. We want to invite people to enter another world, even if only for a moment – the agricultural world; our world as a human society. Without agriculture and the stories that it is comprised of – of inspiration, nostalgic memories, production, hard work and manufacturing, human civilization does not amount to much. Edutainment exhibits show these stories and these experiences through different forms of medium to expose people to agriculture both through real-life exhibits and simulation based exhibits. This is the story of us. We only have to listen to our own story and to believe that our hearts want to listen so that we may learn. Whether we are young or old, if we allow the magic spirit of youthful inspiration and wonder to enter our hearts, we can open the doors to our minds and allow ourselves to have fun and learn as we did when we were innocent children. The result can be something remarkable: an inspiration to pursue a career path, a key that allows us to open a box and discover something about ourselves, further our knowledge of the world around us (one of our greatest treasures) and the opportunity to be in awe and wonder of the fascinating world that we live in.”