Farm Food Facts

Diversity in Agriculture with Dr. Quentin Tyler

February 11, 2020 USFRA Episode 62
Farm Food Facts
Diversity in Agriculture with Dr. Quentin Tyler
Chapters
Farm Food Facts
Diversity in Agriculture with Dr. Quentin Tyler
Feb 11, 2020 Episode 62
USFRA

Today I’m joined by Dr. Quentin Tyler the Chair of MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences).  He’s also the Associate Dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. As a member of the CANR leadership team, he spearheads efforts to assist with the management of resources for faculty and staff professional development; provide guidance and vision for recruiting and retaining diverse and inclusive faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students; and identify and respond to areas in need of multicultural engagement.  

Show Notes Transcript

Today I’m joined by Dr. Quentin Tyler the Chair of MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences).  He’s also the Associate Dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the Michigan State University College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. As a member of the CANR leadership team, he spearheads efforts to assist with the management of resources for faculty and staff professional development; provide guidance and vision for recruiting and retaining diverse and inclusive faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students; and identify and respond to areas in need of multicultural engagement.  

Phil:

Farm Food Facts where every farmer, every acre and every voice matter. Welcome to Farm Food Facts for February 12th, 2020 I'm your host. This week we're going to discuss diversity in agriculture. I'm joined by dr Quentin Tyler, the chair of MANNRS, minorities in agriculture, natural resources and related sciences. He's also the associate Dean for diversity, equity and inclusion in the Michigan state university college of agriculture and natural resources. As a member of the CANR leadership team, he spearheads efforts to assist with the management of resources for faculty and staff. Professional development provides guidance and vision for recruiting and retaining diverse and inclusive faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate students and identify and respond to areas in need of multicultural engagement. Dr Quentin give us the 101 where do we stand today on the current diversity in agriculture?

Quentin:

So I think you know, Phil, that's a very complex question. Where are we at? I will say that, you know, from a standpoint of diversity, we have room for improvement. Also, I would say that, you know, we have a field or an industry that is open for improvement. Uh, I think we have a lot of critical players in the area address or an emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. I think, you know, when you talk about diversity, you can't talk about not talk about what we termed equity and inclusion. Uh, in terms of higher education, we understand this a B with our changing demographics apparently. But also, you know, thinking about, you know, how can we break agriculture or make people more aware of agriculture and its benefits amongst all groups.

Phil:

So when I look at the barriers to farming in general, forget about diversity for a second. You know, we've got an industry that the average farmer loses money that the average farmer has to have a, you know, a second job in order to keep the farm open. So when we expand that and talk about diversity, how can we, how can we get more people involved in farming with those kinds of barriers?

Quentin:

So I think Phil, you know, instead of concentrating on the barriers, we take more of an asset base. We look at the fact that, you know, in terms of farming directly back to their respective communities, a lot of independence in terms of agriculture, you know, and agriculture is always an ongoing in learning type of career fields. In addition to that field, there was a lot of resources available. You know, again, we talked about the barriers, but there's a lot of resources it can help in terms of, uh, in regards to farms.

Phil:

And what are some of those resources, if, if we talk about diversity, the in, in farming, are there any programs that can help educate, fund these people who want to give back to their community, want to give back to society, but just aren't able to buy themselves?

Quentin:

Yeah, so Phil, I will look directly, you know, to a certain resource. We have that as a part of our land grant mission, which is extension. Uh, it's, the engine is located here in Michigan, the state of Michigan to every County. Uh, they have agriculture educators. They also have those that work directly with youth and youth and families. So we'll look at those entities with those train experts in extension that had the opportunity to guide those farmers. And then also in terms of finances [inaudible] those folks with the right resources as well.

Phil:

You know, as in, in your position working with the university, uh, working, you know, with uh, minorities in agriculture, natural resources and related sciences. What can you project when you look into your crystal ball and look ahead in five years, in 10 years, in 20 years, what do you see happening?

Quentin:

So first, you know, it's tough to ignore the demographic challenges, right? The shifting and the diversity, the shifting in our colleges and universities, you know, if you think about it in terms of, of a gender perspective, you know, we have more or women that are acquiring degrees, more women in leadership positions. I think you know, what we need ours is that learning and development. He used to look at diversity not as a bad thing. I look at it from the standpoint of education and opportunities to fill in those gaps that we have and from a knowledge if we're going to continue to be this the group or the folks that feed the world, we've got to have the world at the table. So I think in terms of that and then also feel what I see is an interest amongst our young, uh, interest to know where their food comes from. And then also, uh, interest and having a voice. Oh, and decision maker, you know, in terms of policy, in terms of, you know, the structure. And then also in terms of the opportunities to, I think we as an industry have to continue to educate, you know, our constituents, our internal and external stakeholders on the importance of, of locally grown food, on the importance of farmers and know importance of knowledge too.

Phil:

So what are the kinds of questions and the kind of issues that the students are bringing to you and you know, what are, what are some of the answers that you're giving it to them? How are you, I guess what I'm asking is how do you motivate these kids to want to be a farmer?

Quentin:

So, you know, thank, you know, uh, some of the questions I've heard, he's, no, you know, honestly, what does all does farming and sale, you know, and then how do you start up, you know, we think about one of the barriers to entry that you mentioned was land. So how do I go about, you know, acquiring land when I didn't directly, you know, and then also we talk about it from the native American standpoint, you know, I'll be in a folks understanding that this was my ancestors, you know? So I think first is respecting individuals and in that respect about entities, I think also, you know, uh, I'm letting these folks know that they do have a seat at the table and then we're just not interested in a diversity, but we interested in their ultimate success.

Phil:

And in a, when, when you look on, on the land across the country, what kind of changes have we seen? Probably the past five or 10 years that really reinforce the work that you're doing.

Quentin:

So, you know, fiddle out with thank you know, across the country you can look at a lot of our college of ag and natural resources. You know, we're integrated, you know, not only hold some diverse backgrounds, but you know, diversity is a conversation that's happening every level. You know, I think about the leadership and folks that I've worked with at MSU, we look at who's not at the table, we look at specific awareness programs looking at the training and we're developing and creating those conversations. So they're a part of everyday conversation. I think that's one of the things we're going. And then also we all understand the importance of Oh bye of reaching the youth at a younger age. You know, I think about, you know, particularly here at MSU we have three pre college programs combined researchers with [inaudible], those prospective students. So, you know, we start from that. And then also thinking about the national society of minorities and egg. We have a junior manager. So initially we started with ones when you mad Institute tube, talked about, you know, the agitation and opportunities in ag and natural resources. But now we've had several institutes all across the country. So I think people are being intentional and then also bringing a message that resonates with all, you know, and that's a message that, you know, food, I think people, everybody is attracted to boots, everybody knows you have to be.

Phil:

I'm curious and fascinated at the same time, the fact that you say, you know, we need to reach kids when they're younger. I think that when I was a kid, everybody wants to be an astronaut. And how do we get kids at an early age to grow up wanting to be a farmer? What are, what are the kind of discussions that we need to have with these kids to make them, you know, want to be passionate about, to your point, you know, supplying food, growing food, feeding the world.

Quentin:

So I think, you know, so first I think it's important to have a representation representation matters. So when you have a leader or you know, somebody in these respective positions or roles that come from that respective community, but also, you know, from a visible standpoint it's important as well. I think also it's important to that to ask students, you know, uh, what they want to be. And then also in some ways relate that to, to the field of agriculture and natural resources. And that's one of the things I feel like about ag and natural resources that it touches almost everything you know. And I think too is being attentional and taking outreach programs, working with youth organizations, not only junior management but those four H youth development and FFA. He's working with each of their leaders to identifying communities and somewhat repackaging our message. I think it's all of it. It's important about the language that we use and our delivery.

Phil:

Yeah, I agree with you. I think a lot of it is the, you know, marketing if you would of of farming and to get them excited and to, and to talk the language, uh, that they want to hear. Well, Quentin, you're doing a fabulous job. Thank you. On behalf of all the farmers and all the people who need to eat across the world, and I don't want to be an astronaut anymore. I want to be a farmer. Well, I appreciate those words. Thanks so much for joining us today on foreign food facts. Thank you. Thanks for listening to today's podcast episode. For more information on all things food and agriculture, please visit us@usfarmersandranchers.org. Also be sure to look for us on Facebook at us farmers and ranchers or on Twitter at USF FRA. Until next time.