Tomorrow is Groundhog Day followed by in a short time by Valentine’s and Presidents’ Day. February is here. But did you know it’s also CTE Month? CTE is an acronym standing for Career and Technical Education. Barton Community College is celebrating in a variety of ways over the next four weeks; recognizing the importance of career and technical education; and the students, advisory committees, staff, and faculty involved. The logical question then is, “What does this have to do with agriculture?”
Agriculture is in a unique position. We often think of the equipment and machinery involved in producing food, fiber, and fuel. Today’s machinery is technically complex and requires the technical expertise to operate efficiently and safely. No one would argue the technical aspects of agriculture. However, to find long-term success, those involved in agriculture also need proficiency in what are often termed “liberal arts”.
Success in agriculture depends on the ability to effectively communicate, constantly update skills, understand mathematics, and have a basic science background in everything from biology and chemistry to soils and animal science. This background is present in all successful producers and employees whether they continued their education after high school or not. Many “old timers” have gained this knowledge through years of experience and calling upon a variety of resources. As agriculture has become more and more complex the benefits of more formal training in a post-high school setting has grown.
The take home point is simple. Those in agriculture exist in two worlds. They exist in a complex technical world while having to coexist in a world needing a background in science, math, and even social science. The modern farmer is light years different from most people’s perception. And as the world’s population continues to expand it becomes more important for them to exist in these two worlds.
At Barton, the Agriculture Program is housed in the Technical Division and that might give people looking in from the outside the idea the College is focusing on the “technical” aspects of food, fiber, and fuel in preparing students for careers in agriculture. However, like all career programs in the Technical Division, the program is always working to integrate the technical and liberal arts necessary for students to work in the profession. The goal is not only the basic technical skills needed but to promote an understanding of why they do what they do; be able to solve problems; anticipate problems; communicate effectively; and recognize the need for and be involved in continuously expanding their knowledge base to grow in their profession.