First as usual, a drought update is in order. Again, nothing after 8 a.m. this past Tuesday is included. The biggest change is the bullseye of extreme and exceptional drought in Northeast Kansas and part of Southeast Kansas has expanded and the area of exceptional drought expanded a bit. Our area is relatively unchanged and much of Northwest and a substantial portion of Southwest Kansas are not even abnormally dry. The moderate temperatures most of the past week slowed down corn grain fill which should help yields. Reports across the state indicate the 2018 corn crop is well ahead of schedule and much is in the early dough stage well above the long-term average. Last year’s harvest was long and drawn out but this years should be early if this pattern continues. Now on to today’s topic.
August is here and fall is not far off. This means several things. Days are getting shorter, the Kansas State Fair is only a month away. Harvest for fall crops is near. And it’s almost time to head back to school. Barton Community College starts the fall semester Aug. 15th. Latest reports indicate the unemployment rate in Kansas is well under three percent. Also present is a large need for employees in the agriculture, all phases of agriculture. While most Kansans looking for work have found a job, many of these jobs are lower paying, lack permanence, and have little opportunity for advancement. There are indications part of the reason for the low unemployment rate is many are working more than one job to make ends meet since many jobs are part time and/or lack benefits. Yet higher paying, more stable positions, with good benefits go unfilled due to a lack of qualified help. Some employment is a job while some employment results in a career. How can we move people in the area from jobs to careers?
Depending on where you are reading this, there is a community or technical college nearby. They offer certificates, two-year degrees, and short-term training opportunities to prepare individuals to work in various industries/professions. Some certificates may be obtained with one semester of intense study or in two semesters. These are designed in conjunction with industry to address industry needs and prepare students for careers. At Barton Community College, in agriculture, we have two semester certificate options in Crop Protection and Beef Cattle Production. Barton offers two-year A.A.S. degrees in Crop Protection and Agriculture Business Management, as well as a two-year transfer Agriculture degree. However, this is just a small portion of the certificates and A.A.S. offerings at Barton. You can study natural gas transmission, welding or become a scales technician in additions to many career paths in healthcare, business, criminal justice, or computer networking.
Please read these next few sentences carefully. Many won’t consider something like agriculture as a career since they have no background in it. And this is true of many other possible career paths offered at Barton and other colleges. What industry wants is someone responsible, willing to learn, and possessing the skills making for a good employee. If you are willing to learn, a good basic education from a place like Barton and dedication once hired are what industry wants. The point is simply we have choices to make in life. One of the biggest is looking for a job or establishing a career. It isn’t that one path is necessarily better than the other. It depends on considering where you want to see yourself in five, ten, or twenty years.
Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.