Tuesday, January 15, 2013

It's not often that I brag about my major...

It's not often I brag about my major. Generally, I tell people "I have a useless degree."

It's kinda true. Really, as a major, Equine Science is not likely to land you a job. At Murray, you don't actually have a major, you have an area- Animal/Equine science. That means you don't have a minor, and it also means you're grouped in as an Agriculture major. And it also means you get to take a lot of classes not directly related to equines...

I grew up as a member of the upper middle class, from the suburbs of Chicago, graduating from a high school aptly nick-named "Preppy Ridge" by our rivals. I thought FFA (that's Future Farmers of America, in case you're like me) had gone the way of the dodo bird, and the closest class PR offered was "child development."

So, when I signed up to be an Equine science major, let me just tell you. I had no. idea. what I was getting into.

Lets just say that on Day 3 of "Intro to Animal Science" when Doc Davis, a man who was skinny as a bean pole, stood well over 6' tall and had a handlebar mustache and southern drawl that almost required a translator, hefted a black trash bag onto his desk, I couldn't begin to fathom that he would pull out the entire reproductive system of a cow. Clearly, unattached to the bovine donor.

...I'll let that sink in for a moment....

Doc Davis could also jump, flat footed, from the floor the table he taught behind, ate chalk on a regular basis and washed it down with Coke. Yes. He's still alive. No, we're not sure how.

Anyway, what brings me to this subject is that today, I decided to install a dimmer switch in our living room. I had asked my brother to do it and then decided I would just do it myself. I called him when I ended up with an extra wire and he ended the phone call by saying "I'm impressed that you managed to do this yourself!" Now, before you go all independent horse woman and defend me, I routinely call Vince for things like "Will you google soandso for me, my computer is being slow." or "I'm lost downtown and don't know which way is north." as well as "I'm at Nippers Corner and the engine fell out of my car." or "I'm at Judy's and my brakes quit working." So he's pretty used to me being whiny and completely UN independent.

So, when he said that, I simply replied "Well, I learned how to do it in college." He missed a beat and said "really?"

What, don't most majors learn how to wire a light switch? No? Huh.

I got to repeat that line twice more- once to the guy at Home Depot and once to Amy when I was on the phone with her.

Then it occurred to me. Being an Ag major really teaches you SO MANY different THINGS. I'm not going to go all FFA on you (yeah, it still exists, and it's a pretty impressive organization.) But why should I try to sum up what they have already done for me? Here's their mission statement (I edited out the word agriculture several times, to impress upon you the things it teaches, despite its relationship to agriculture):

FFA makes a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth and career success.
To accomplish its mission, FFA:
  • Develops competent and assertive leadership.
  • Increases awareness of the global and technological importance of agriculture and its contribution to our well-being.
  • Strengthens the confidence of students in themselves and their work.
  • Promotes the intelligent choice and establishment of a career.
  • Encourages achievement in supervised learning experience programs.
  • Encourages wise management of economic, environmental and human resources of the community.
  • Develops interpersonal skills in teamwork, communications, human relations and social interaction.
  • Builds character and promotes citizenship, volunteerism and patriotism.
  • Promotes cooperation and cooperative attitudes among all people.
  • Promotes healthy lifestyles.
  • Encourages excellence in scholarship
And their motto: Learning to Do, Doing to Learn, Earning to Live, Living to Serve.

I never really jumped on the FFA bandwagon, I grew up in 4-H and understand it better, but as an ag major, you pretty much learned how to be an FFA advisor, so you embrace the above, whole heartedly.  I guess being in ag doesn't so much teach you one vocation.. it teaches you how to be a person. 

A quick gander at the curriculum for an Animal/Equine student at Murray reminded me all the classes I had to take.

I learned to weld, wire a light switch, put together a small engine, lay block, survey land, plant a garden or landscape a building.

I had lessons on how to balance a ration, we learned how to make spreadsheets and websites, as well as write a resume, thank you letters and how to interview for a job.

We discussed current events, learned to teach, do research, work with small and large animals, do minor surgery, manage a farm, make and follow a budget, how to identify and test soil, how to write a speech and give it... with confidence.

How to make a plan and market it, parliamentary procedure, cattle insemination, how to work independently and not take no for an answer...

There is really nothing we don't touch on in school... and maybe just because it was my major and I don't know what other majors learn, but by golly, being an Ag major is pretty stinkin' cool.