Auburn University started with humble beginnings in 1856 as the East Alabama Male College, but, after the Civil War, ,\struggled financially. The Methodist church transferred legal control of the college to the state in 1872, which made Auburn the first land-grant college in the South to be established separately from the state university. At this point, it became known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama.
The decision for it to become a state institution allowed the college to receive benefits from the Morrill Act. A land-grant college or university is one designated by its state legislature or congress to receive the benefits of the Morrill Acts of 1862 and 1890. The original mission of a land-grant school as set forth in the Morrill Act was to teach agriculture, military tactics and the mechanical arts along with classical studies so people of the working class could obtain a liberal, but practical education. Today, 157 years after its founding, Auburn University is continuing to do just that.
Auburn is often referred to as the "Cow College" and many of today’s students take pride in the agricultural heritage at Auburn.
Garrett Dixon, a senior in Animal Science, thinks of it this way, "A lot of people, even some administrators here at Auburn, view the term ‘Cow College’ as a derogatory term. However, I feel being a ‘Cow College’ is one of the things that makes Auburn a great place to attend. American agriculture faces the tremendous challenge of doubling the world’s food supply by 2050 in order to continue feeding the world. Auburn University along with other ‘Cow Colleges’ will play a pivotal role in preparing future generations of agriculturalists to efficiently grow and market their crops
"What many people across Auburn’s campus and the state of Alabama do not realize is that Auburn’s College of Agriculture makes up a very small amount of Auburn’s student body totaling 1,275 in the fall of 2012. The number of students has grown over the last decade and Associate Dean Paul Patterson expects that trend to continue.
"Nationally, we are seeing an increased demand for graduates with degrees in agriculture, as agribusiness firms try to both gear up for a projected growth in global demand and replace retiring baby boomers," Patterson said.
Whether or not students at Auburn major in agriculture, the goal of Ag Week 2013 was to get the word about agriculture to students in all corners of the campus – not just on Ag Hill. Although students take pride in Auburn’s history in producing agriculturalists, many graduate knowing little about agriculture; therefore, the focus for this year.
Ashley Culpepper, president of the Ag Council, said, "In the past, Ag Week has been more about celebrating our own accomplishments and enjoying a week of fellowship across the college. This year it is about education."
The week started on March 30 bringing prospective and current students, alumni, faculty and staff to Ag Heritage Park for a program and meal before going to watch Auburn take on the Alabama Crimson Tide at Plainsman Park. Monday an interactive panel discussion was held in Langdon Hall called "Feed Me the Truth About My Food" where students learned the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to food production. The panel was comprised of several faculty from across the college: Dr. Henry Fadamiro, Entomology and Plant Pathology; Dr. Christy Bratcher, Animal Science; Dr. David Weaver, Agronomy and Soils; Dr. Leonard Bell, Food Science; Dr. Wallace Berry, Poultry Science; Dr. Lisa Kriese-Anderson, Animal Science; Dr. Jay Spiers, Horticulture; and Dr. Robert Nelson, Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology. The keynote speaker at the event was Dr. William Moar, a Corn IRM Technical Lead from Monsanto. Blue Bell ice cream, a product made here in Alabama, was served to all in attendance.
Tuesday on the Concourse, Tea and Tie-Die was held where students could stop by and have tea and tie-dye a 100% cotton, "Peace, Love and Agriculture" t-shirt. Auburn’s beloved mascot, Aubie, made an appearance to show his support of agriculture while students sipped Milo’s tea and tie-dyed t-shirts. Tuesday night, Auburn College of Agriculture students had the opportunity to attend an etiquette dinner where they learned the tips and tricks of eating in a professional setting.
Wednesday was a day packed full of events. From 11 a.m.-1 p.m. on Comer Lawn the annual Ag Hill Picnic took place where people came from far and wide to enjoy a plate of catfish or chicken fingers. During this time, there was also a career fair for agriculture students including over 20 companies looking for employees and interns. At noon, the candidate with the most funds raised in their name puckered up and kissed a local goat after being deemed the "winner" of the Kiss the Goat fundraiser. Auburn University celebrities agreed to be in the running, with the candidate with the most money at the end of two weeks the one who got to kiss the goat. All the funds raised went to the Cam Newton Foundation which addresses the needs of youth, whether social, physical, educational or emotional.
Thursday, College of Agriculture student organizations gathered on the Concourse to reach out to their fellow students and educate them about agriculture with "Ag Facts Day" using interactive displays and booths. That night, students gathered at Ag Heritage Park for some competitive fun with Ag Island. Teams competed in a variety of events and enjoyed dinner and music
.Friday, over 200 fourth graders from Auburn city schools came to campus for "Get Ag-tive Day." It gave students exposure to agriculture at an early age.
Later that day, the College of Agriculture Council joined organizations across campus for Relay for Life. The College of Agriculture recently lost one of its most beloved faculty members Dr. Bill Hardy to cancer and it was a way to commemorate him and others in students’ lives who have been affected by cancer.
Ag Week is an annual event, but the focus on educating across campus was a great endeavor for this year and will hopefully continue for years to come. The more people who leave Auburn understanding the importance of agriculture the easier it will be for future generations of agriculturalists to do their job. After all, Auburn is putting forth the next generation of lawmakers, medical professionals, journalists, educators, etc. as they fulfill their land-grant mission of providing a practical education.
To see more pictures from the week check out: www.ag.auburn.edu/agweek.
Anna Leigh Peek is a freelance writer from Auburn.