BIOL 444 hosts Future of Agriculture panel

Food is an essential part of everyone’s lives. As the population and growing problems with climate change increases, issues of maintaining a food supply has come to the forefront of the minds of the student’s in BIOL 444, an independent biology studies program. As part of their class project, students in the BIOL 444 class held a panel called Future of Agriculture last Thursday to discuss how agriculture and sustainability is being addressed in Northeast Missouri.

The course, led by professor of Biology Michael Kelrick, takes a closer look into issues pertaining to climate change, the environment, and agriculture. Since the course is an independent study, students designed the course to delve deeper into their specific interests.

Senior Chloe Jackson, a student in the BIOL 444 course, says students in the class decided to hold a panel for the future of agriculture because the students felt there was not enough discussion happening about the topic and there needed to be an open place for environmentalists and farmers to discuss the issues.

“Feeding people is going to be one of our biggest challenges in the world in the future with our population growing rapidly and our changing environment,” Jackson says.

The panel consisted of community members, professors, and students who were involved with agriculture or sustainability. Jackson says they chose the panel members based on their perspective on the issues at hand as well as how open minded they would be discussing the topic.

Local cattle farmer Brian Coleman, who was part of the panel, says the event gave him an opportunity to share his experience as a young farmer with alternative practices in terms of the future of agriculture. He said the panel gave him a wide range of responses that he had not yet considered.

“It’s good to have an event like this where everyone can pitch in their opinion,” Coleman says. “You never learn something from people you agree with all the time.”

Coleman says there needs to be a constant evaluation for the field of agriculture with the current state of where the industry is. He says he feels he falls in the middle of several issues because he represents a small amount of farmers. Although there was no definitive answer for any of the topics discussed, Coleman says the responsibilities of farmers will be tested in the coming years.

Junior Kaitlyn Meyer, who is also a student in the BIOL 444 class, felt that the panel gave more understanding to the issues and how people can help make the issue better. Meyer says the panel brought in a variety of students that overfilled the classroom who contributed important points to the conversation.

“I think there needs to be a lot more education and initiative done and in the Kirksville community [like the Take Root Cafe] that is already being started,” Meyer says.

Meyer says the issue is happening even in our community and it is important to have this conversation to learn more about the issues in our world.