By Angela Wills
A senior at Kentucky State University’s College of Agriculture, Food Science & Sustainable Systems has set out to bring positive change to an accusatory trend. Trevor Claiborn is the student and he says that only a few minorities are enrolling in agriculture programs but his vision is to change the lack of interest that Blacks and other minorities have in the study of agriculture.
The reason for the lack of interest is primarily due to the small percentage of American farmers with racially diverse backgrounds. Census Agriculture study shows that only a little more than 1% of the nation’s farmers are black, with the majority of them being white.
At a Liberal Arts Symposium hosted by the Whitney Young Honor Program of KSU, Claiborn spoke to a group of campus peers. He stated, “Minority students need to see people who culturally or physically look like them.”
Claiborn’s presentation introduced his alter ego, “Farmer Brown The MC”, who has a hip-hop personality and will set out to travel to visit low-performing schools in Frankfort/Franklin County, Lexington and Louisville. The attempt is to engage kids and talk to them about agriculture with the aid of audio and visual themes that hopefully, they can better relate.
Claiborn has worked with a team of K-State producers to put together a couple of videos aimed at children to help them explore the basics of farming. The pilot video, “Chicken Leg Shuffle”, he sports a straw hat and denim overalls while teaching young kids a hip-hop dance routine.
He uses hip-hop as a tool to connect to the children because he understands that the foundation of the entertainment industry reels from hip-hop. The use of it hopefully will attract and hold the attention of those he engage. Claiborn states, “We’re not trying to turn these kids into scientists.” However, he does want to give them exposure to etymology, animal livestock and other concepts of agricultural.
The K-State senior does have a genuine idea and the need for more diversity in agriculture is truly a large one. The ability to get kids interested at a young age could also lead to a lasting interest that encourages some, if not all of them to seek careers in the field and give back to their community.
There is a wide variety of careers to be explored with agricultural education but many aren’t privy to them due to lack of understanding the depth of the major.