Faith, farming and agriculture: Ag education at Huntington University

HUNTINGTON, Ind. — Faith, farming and agricultural education are all tied together at Huntington University, where Raymie Porter teaches agriculture to students.

Porter is also director of academic programs at Haupert Institute for Agricultural Studies.

Huntington is uniquely positioned as one of the few Christian colleges to offer a four-year degree in agriculture-related majors.

Porter shared his story with AgriNews.

Q: How do faith, agriculture and education tie together?

A: To me, faith is having confidence and trust in God because of seeing the evidence of his work in this world. Some of that evidence is found in the way crops or livestock grow and reproduce and how they provide food, fiber and fuel that meets people’s needs.

Agriculture is a God-given enterprise, because it was God who first planted a garden and made human beings to work it and take care of it. People are still working to take care of the earth and provide for human needs.

Even if we don’t always get it right, we are learning how to do it more efficiently and in more sustainable ways. That’s what education can do — it helps us learn how to take care of God’s agricultural resources while producing food for the world.

Q: Do you think agricultural education is important? If so, why?

A: I believe agricultural education is vital to the future of agriculture in the U.S. because it exposes more students to agriculture who are increasingly not from farming backgrounds and it involves them in agricultural experiences through supervised agricultural experiences.

In this way, ag education helps inform students about agriculture so they can be prepared for careers in agriculture and provide more accurate information to others who are not engaged in agriculture.

Q: What do you enjoy most about being a professor?

A: When students have an internship experience or when they graduate and begin their careers, I love to hear the stories about what they did and how they saw the connection between what was taught in the classroom and what they learned by experience.

Q: What opportunities do you see for students interested in studying agriculture?

A: There are a number of public universities that offer degrees in agriculture, but there are only a few opportunities — including Huntington University — to pursue a four-year degree in agriculture at a Christian college.

Huntington University has majors in agribusiness, agricultural education, animal science, and crop science and agronomy.

An agribusiness major prepares students for careers in ag marketing, ag management, ag finance, ag entrepreneurial small business, crop or animal production, ag missions, or ag communications and public policy.

Animal science or crop science and agronomy majors prepare students for technical careers with companies, or for graduate programs in those fields. And ag education helps train future high school and middle school ag teachers.

There are projected to be 59,000 ag-related job openings each year in the near future, with only 36,000 graduates from ag majors to fill those openings. That means the demand for graduates with ag degrees is greater than there are people to fill the positions. That’s a good position to be in as a college graduate.

Q: What do you think the future of agriculture may have in store?

A: There will always be a need for agriculture. More people coming into the world each year means an increased need for food and other ag products, and agriculture is constantly changing and becoming more technical.

We have to use all the tools that are available to make agriculture as resource-efficient as possible.

I heard once that what we now know as “precision agriculture” will simply be known as “agriculture” in the future. It will be the normal way of doing things.

Getting a solid education in agriculture will position you to start having an impact right out of college. But a college degree in agriculture is only the beginning of a lifelong career, learning how to more efficiently and sustainably feed a growing number of people. If you like the idea of feeding people sustainably, what could be more satisfying than a career in agriculture?