For some students, perhaps most students, applying for university can be quite daunting; there are so many programs out there today, so many places to go, and lots of money to pay, and no one wants to take the ‘wrong’ step. The path to the perfect career, which is both lovable and economically viable, can be much muddier than others. Growing up in Tatamagouche, NS, I know muddy roads. Alas, I remember feeling that heart-wrenching anxiety and systematic pressure just four years ago, when I would graduate high school soon and had lost direction. Where are my strengths? What are my values? And what do I enjoy? I didn’t know.
Strangely enough, I have been reminiscing and re-evaluating these thoughts which I thought I had left behind. It comes with the realization that I am just mere months left of completing my undergraduate degree in Agricultural Business. I cannot explain this mixture of happiness, unease, freedom and pressure other than it is unsure and overwhelming. Four years ago, I did a whole ten minutes of researching schools and found a Science degree that incorporated both business and food, which seemed to be a promising career choice. People will always need food, right? In addition, the Nova Scotia Agricultural College was close to home, I could play sports, and the application fee was only $25. I knew nothing of agriculture, but I was willing to learn. And learn I did.
I never knew I could be so interested in something I knew nothing about. They never taught the words ‘agriculture’ or ‘food safety and security’ in school, and I sure don’t remember hearing facts like the agricultural sector provides one in eight jobs in Canada, employing over 2.1 million people (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, 2012). It was this and much more that taught me agriculture is of vital importance to the Canadian economy and nations worldwide. Over the past years I have learnt and discussed what people must know; food is the basic human need for survival, health and productivity. It is the foundation for human and economic development. Then why are so many people neglecting agriculture? Why is agriculture associated with a negative stigma? Why do youth think their food is grown in the grocery store?
During my undergraduate career, I have been blessed with opportunity to travel and learn more about agriculture in a global context. Currently living in Uganda has opened my eyes to just how dynamic the agricultural sector is. Here, sustainable agriculture is the backbone of Uganda’s economy and the main-stay of the country’s population, employing two-thirds of the country’s 11.5 million-17 million strong workforce. In total, the industry contributes up to 48% of the country’s total export earnings. It is so important that it is considered the “best mechanism for reducing poverty and promoting development” in the East Africa Community (EAC).
Bringing it all together, I have found some values worth living for and a passion in myself that did not exist four years ago. The more I learn about soil, and crops and growing plants sustainably, the more I realize this is not just a method but a holistic way of life. And although I must pick up my feet again in a few months and take another crucial step in my professional career path, I know that I am open, willing to learn and ready to grow in the world of agriculture and development. Most importantly, to be open to new career paths and life-experiences, and consider different values and perspectives, because you never know where you might end up!