High school agriculture education teachers like Bill Newsom with Munford FFA are hungry to show these kinds of career opportunities to their students. “I’ve been very impressed with what we’ve seen today,” Newsom said. “What I hope my students gain from this is how far technology in agriculture has come and the career opportunities that are available for students. If we can get the word out that it’s not just cows, sows and plows. There are so many opportunities in production agriculture and within the support system for agriculture.”

Munford High School FFA student Ben Hathcock was interested in the use of RTK/GPS systems in crop production, while Rachel Hull, also with Munford FFA, was impressed with the Agricenter’s lateral irrigation system.

Tim Roberts, an educator with the University of Tennessee Extension Service who works at Agricenter, came up with the idea for the tour and developed it with the help of Agricenter staff. “We wanted to show FFA students how wide open agriculture is,” Roberts said. “It’s not just production agriculture anymore. It’s so many other things. If students are interested in agriculture, there is a place for you. You don’t necessarily have to be a farmer.”

Agricenter International is the world’s largest urban farm and research test facility, managing approximately 1,000 acres of farmland located in the Shelby Farms area of Shelby County. Part of its mission is to develop educational programs about agriculture.

Companies and organizations who sponsored the FFA tour were BASF, Helena Chemical Co., Crop Protection Services, Tipton County Co-op, Wooten Tractor Co., Memphis Ag Club, Tipton County Farm Bureau, Shelby County Farm Bureau, Agricenter International and University of Tennessee Extension Service.