Agriculture is Arkansas’s largest industry, adding about $16 billion to the state’s economy each year. We’re the largest rice producer, the second largest producer of broiler chickens, and the third largest cotton producer in the US. The average age of an Arkansas farmer is 57, so retirement is hot topic. It’s very important that future generations of Arkansas farmers have their pick of great agricultural education opportunities. Luckily, there are many resources to foster a love of farming for every age.
Agriculture Education for Arkansas Kids
4-H was founded in 1902 and is one of the best known and most respected youth programs in the world. It is now overseen by the National Institute of Food and Agriculture and the USDA. Kids can learn about farming through 4-H, but the program is famous for its robust animal science offerings. Arkansas 4-H offers youth livestock programs all across the state that teach the basics of raising and caring for cattle and other farm animals.
Arkansas GardenCorps is an AmeriCorps program that teaches youth about nutrition and growing food in schools and other sites throughout the Little Rock area. The program’s reach changes yearly based on funding, but you can sign up for the quarterly newsletter to find out where GardenCorps will be working next.
If you’re an educator or a parent who wants to see a garden program in your school, you can apply for Arkansas Farm Bureau’s Garden Grant to start an outdoor classroom.
The University of Arkansas’s extension program also offers youth education programming.
University Ag Programs in Arkansas
Nearly every public university in Arkansas offers at least one degree in agriculture. Most of them offer a variety of degrees at multiple levels. The state’s largest land-grant institution, the University of Arkansas, offers 27 different Ag degrees, including bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral programs. The Dale Bumpers College of Agriculture, Food and Life Sciences is a good place to start for general agriculture offerings at the main Fayetteville campus, and the university’s Monticello and Pine Bluff campuses also have Ag programs. The University of Arkansas Pine Bluff has an aquafarming program.
Arkansas State University’s Jonesboro campus offers seven agriculture degree programs and awards both bachelor’s and master’s degrees, including animal science as well as specialties in Ag-specific business, tech and communications. ASU’s Beebee campus offers an Associates in Agriculture, as does Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville, and National Park Community College in Hot Springs. At Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, you can earn an MBA in Agribusiness.
Ag Education for Hobby and Career Farmers
You can stay on top of the offerings at the University of Arkansas’ Cooperative Extension Service by regularly checking their website. The Extension Service has free community classes in raising poultry, gardening, and other topics as well as resources related to soil testing, pests, and invasive species. The events calendar offers pesticide application training, new ag-legislation and regulation briefings and other continuing education opportunities. Local farmers are encouraged to reach out to the Extension Service with any type of ag-related questions that arise.
Protect Your Investment
You can learn everything there is to know about farming (although really, could anyone?) and still lose your crop or livestock to a devastating weather or pest. So if you have a farm, even if it’s just a hobby farm, protect your investment with insurance. Talk to one of our local agents about crop and livestock insurance today.