Agriculture group hosts lunch-time lectures for students

by Erin Ghere

Besides sleeping and trying to find short lines for food, the Sustainable Agriculture Study Group offers agriculture an alternative lunch-time option for agriculture students.
The prime time to hear speakers and to discuss issues regarding international agricultural practices is on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. this quarter.
Sustainable agriculture strategies aim to use farmlands indefinitely, rather than use wasteful slash-and-burn techniques.
“We bring together people who are interested in sustainable agriculture for a brown bag lunch,” said Julie Grossman, a graduate student in agronomy and plant genetics, and president of the organization.
The series has focused on international sustainable agriculture issues this quarter, with speakers ranging from a Honduran group to farmers from around the world.
Students are able to connect practical farm experiences with their University courses through the speakers, Grossman said.
Each quarter, the group selects speakers to lecture on a particular agriculture-related topic. The group picks nonprofit organizations, organic farmers, and others with practical experience in the field to speak at each event in order to give students different perspectives on the selected topic.
“The goal is to try and get a broad diversity of views — not just academic — and bring in community members,” said Helene Murray, adviser for the organization.
Another pool of presenters are found in the students themselves. Students each complete an internship during their tenure at the University, and in most cases, their department requires a presentation of their experience once they return.
So, interspersed between professional speakers at the events are students regaling the group with their tales.
Between 15 to 20 people attend each session, Grossman said.
At the end of the previous quarter, students decide on the focus of the discussion groups for the following quarter. Outside sources, such as faculty and staff, often provide ideas as well.
During fall quarter, the group’s focus was the Red River Valley crisis.
The Sustainable Agriculture Study Group is made up of students from diverse backgrounds, Murray said. It was formed eight years ago, but began its series format three years ago, Grossman said.
Geography, philosophy, plant biology, natural resources and agriculture are just a few of the topics discussed at these lunchtime events, Grossman said.