"How do we get our STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) students to care about farming?"
When a question this specific happens twice in the same day, I sit up and take notice. A couple of days ago I did an interview with a Florida college student whose questions included this one. Then later in the day I had a visit from faculty and the public relations team of a Cincinnati school where I'll be speaking in April, and they asked the same question.
I do not live in the world of higher or secondary education. My cocoon, if you will, revolves around the farm and our highly engaged young people on staff and internships. Most of the people I engage with are interested in what I do.
So these questions popped my little bubble. I thought people were coming around to the importance of stewardship, food, and farming. It shows how easily we become myopic, enjoying our tribe, living in our little world. How quickly we can forget that my blog has a few thousand followers but Kim Kardashian has millions.
These questions, coming from folks who live in mainstream academia, speak volumes about the hubris and techno-cult of modern orthodoxy. We have plenty of work to do.
How did I answer them? Here it is.
We live in an age of techno-worship, where drunken hubris leads many to think we'll finally and completely cut this umbilical cord that anchors us to ecology: soil, plants, animals. That we think we can levitate into Star Trek fabricated pill nutrition indicates not evolutionary advancement, but devolutionary ignorance of life's foundational building blocks. The only way a civilization can enjoy the luxury of STEM advancement is in a bountiful nest created and sustained by landscape stewardship. Absent soil, water, and breathable air--the commons--STEM won't have a place to operate.
I am profoundly frustrated that folks on the inside of the STEM bubble apparently disregard resource stewardship--unless it involves some high tech machines or software. Driverless tractors and infra-red cameras mounted to drones do not ultimately caress our ecological womb. Caring farmers do.
Would you be happy with a robotic marriage partner? Will the earth be happy with robotic caretakers?