Enrollment increases at TTU’s Davis College, despite national decline in ag interest

Since 2020 there have been 500 more students admitted into the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources
Published: Jan. 18, 2023 at 9:42 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2023 at 10:37 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Since 2020 there have been 500 more students admitted into the Davis College of Agricultural Sciences & Natural Resources, according to the Texas Tech University Institutional Research’s Fact Book. Nationally, there has been a decrease in interest young adults have for the ag industry.

The Dean of the Davis College, Clinton Krehbiel, says enrollment increasing is good news considering one out of three American producers are over retirement age. He says this problem has been stirring for the past 40 years.

“I feel like back historically in the ‘80s there was a farm crisis, and a lot of parents encouraged their children not to come back and a lot of conversations I’ve had with folks, you know we’re kind of paying for those conversations now,” Krehbiel said.

In addition, Krehbiel says the current cost to get into the ag industry is discouraging potential farmers and ranchers.

“At the same time, it continues to be challenging and it’s very difficult to enter that business if you’re not passed down land and resources from a prior generation,” Krehbiel said.

Krehbiel says to help stop this from becoming an even bigger problem, agriculture education needs to be introduced to students at a younger age. He says that can start in high school or middle school.

“Biology teachers, math teachers, chemistry teachers to use examples in the classroom that are agriculture-related so they can pass that information on to their students,” Krehbiel said.

Krehbiel says Texas Tech’s Davis College is working to reach these younger students, for example, by helping create hands-on experiences through the Lubbock ISD Agri-STEM complex.

“It’s one example of a great opportunity for us to engage younger learners with opportunities in agriculture, to give them a high-impact experiential learning,” Krehbiel said.

To keep that interest going, in the Davis College, students continue to get their hands dirty.

“They want to learn because, again, many of them come from non-ag backgrounds. They really want an immersive experience of what it means to be able to handle livestock or to be out in the field relative to crop production,” Krehbiel said.

Krehbiel says the Davis College is focused on ways to inspire the next generation to try out the ag industry.