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8 cringe-worthy moments that happened during ag class


Contrary to popular belief, most college students do try to make it to class between playing cornhole and beer pong. It’s a good thing, too, because some of the most entertaining moments happen in in the classroom!

Below are eight examples that made me laugh (or shake my head):

1) Beeting around the bush

While talking about sugarbeets in soil fertility one day, a student raised her hand with a very confused look on her face. She then proceeded to ask, “How can you get sugar from beets? I thought sugar was mined like salt …” I think the disconnect between farms and food is bigger than I imagined.

2) That’ll leave a mark

We were discussing agronomic practices one day, and it was mentioned that rolling soybeans was occasionally practiced by some farmers. One curious classmate asked, “How do you think it makes the plants feel to run them over like that?” Only the soybean-whisperer can answer that question for us.

3) Soiled the situation

During one class, we were lucky enough have a soil pit to look at soil horizons and root growth 5 feet deep. More depth allowed for a better view of what was happening beneath the field. However, it also left more opportunity for mishap — which is exactly what occurred when our professor made a wrong step and went sliding down into the pit. Shortest field trip ever.

4) Oh wait …

We took a trip to the agronomy farm on campus to identify weed species. While standing next to a study, a student asked, “What’s wrong with that wheat?” I was confused at first glance, since I didn’t see any wheat. That’s when I realized he was asking about the alfalfa plots … Whoops.

5) Creature comforts

Entomology was one of our more interesting classes, even without the hilarity of watching classmates squirm as they pinned bugs for our required insect collection projects. Perhaps even funnier than that was one particular student who had more questions than most. One of the most memorable was when she asked, “If the bugs needed shampoo for their hairs or if they just went swimming to stay clean.” You can’t make this stuff up.

6) Does he know something we don’t?

Not all memorable classroom moments are funny — some are just plain weird. Like anywhere else, college has plenty of interesting people. One such person came to class wearing a half-face skull mask and sporting a nerf gun on his hip. Apparently, it was for a club called Humans vs. Zombies, in which people dressed up for a post-apocalyptic shootout game. I’m not sure that nerf guns are the best way to prepare for a zombie attack, but to each their own.

7) Drinking your troubles away

I think it’s safe to say that nobody likes a pop quiz, but getting out of them can be a challenge. One strategy I saw tested one day was to pass out drunk on the desk a few minutes after staring at the quiz. While I don’t think she received a good grade, the stress of the quiz was lost on her. In her defense, it was St. Patrick’s Day.

8) Speaking his mind .. sort of

We all know that there any plenty of opinions about organic vs. conventional farming, GMOs, etc. Students in crop and soil sciences tend to have a strong opinion regarding the “right” way to farm. I found this out very early in my college career, when a student caused a scene in an introductory soils class. While discussing nitrogen requirements of corn, he interrupted, “Have fun with those WWII chemicals!” I’m still not exactly sure whether he was against nitrogen fertilizer altogether, had nitrogen confused with pesticides, or just thought that we no longer had a need for synthetic nitrogen fertilizer.

Spartan-state native Michael Swoish is a Michigan State alum who’s currently pursuing his Ph.D. in soil science at Virginia Tech. Michael has taught classes on precision agriculture and has traveled the country to get as much dirt time as possible.

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