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What Is Agroecology?

by Tim Brunicardi on March 29, 2018

Have you heard of the term Agroecology? Have you ever wondered what is agroecology? Agroecology is the study of agriculture from an ecological perspective. This unique form of science is based on the recognition that agricultural areas are ecosystems that interact with and influence those neighboring them. The discipline of agroecology provides novel solutions where resources are limited.

Professionals in this industry study the way environmental and societal aspects affect the productivity of farms and other agricultural systems. Some of these observed factors include:

  • Technological advances
  • Biophysical interactions
  • Socioeconomic relationships
  • Geology/geomorphology of a region

Generally, the focus for those involved in agroecology is on environmental conservation or the use of local resources. This includes small farms and agricultural efficiency in which production is greater and more profitable than the initial investment of time and resources.

Sustainability is the main focus of agroecology. Industrial or mechanized farming (currently the most prominent method of food production) is not environmentally conscious, nor does it manage to meet the needs of the millions of people who go hungry each year.

Agroecologists are people who care deeply about solving this problem. By viewing farming through a scientific lens, production can be made smarter, greener, and more efficient. So whether you’re interested in the management and planning side of agroecology, or if you’re a farmer who wants to improve the efficiency of your farm, the study of agroecology could be right for you.agroecology

Currently, interest in sustainable, local food production is becoming more and more widespread. As issues with industrial farming come to light, people are truly beginning to buy into the idea of community-based food networks.

Because of this, there has never been a better time to strive for a career in agroecology. The fact that there has been a very recent shift in public opinion means that there is a high demand for people with an agroecological skill set, and few people with the knowledge necessary to fill those new positions. Therefore, competition in this industry is quite low. Plus, new market opportunities within the complex network of community agriculture appear rapidly, meaning it is relatively easy to carve a place for yourself within a local system as long as you are bringing a unique product or service to the table.

What Characteristics Does It Take To Stand Out In The Field?

  • Strong ethics. Although the discipline of agroecology itself is scientific, the profession is built on the desire to help the environment and community members; therefore, as simple as it seems, being a good person with a strong moral compass is key.
  • Tolerance. Understanding and empathizing with those from diverse backgrounds is necessary in this industry.
  • Scientific background. Biological and ecological knowledge is crucial to this discipline.
  • Willingness/commitment to the cause. Genuine interest in giving back to the community is important in this field; employers will look for someone who has these values.

How Can You Become An Agroecologist?

1. Get Your Degree: The more qualified you become the better your chances are of being considered for jobs.

2. Do Field Work/Internships/Volunteer: Organizing or taking part in volunteer initiatives will prove to employers that you are a competent worker and passionate about what you do. Internships and previous fieldwork will allow you to get your foot in the door early. This will help you get the job you want, not just a simple entry-level position.

3. Network/Make Connections: Agroecology is incredibly community-centric. Get to know the people and organizations involved in sustainable farming within your community early on; prove to them how valuable your function within the community is. If you do this, you are likely to have a place in the farming network in your town come graduation.

     For more information on Hocking College's Agroecology Program contact Program Manager Sasha Sigetic by email: sigetic@hocking.edu or by phone: (740) 753-6283.

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