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Education and Agriculture: Traditional or Technical Education?
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throughout February with a series of events recognizing the importance of career and technical education while increasing awareness of career paths available for those preparing to graduate from high school and older nontraditional potential students. One of these events takes place on Leap Day, Feb. 29, a Career and Technical Education Fair from 1 until 3 p.m. that is open to anyone interested. For information or to sign up you may contact Denise Schreiber at (620) 792-9324. Some programs, welding and the natural gas programs for example, are easily seen as technical while some such as nursing and agriculture live in both the technical and more traditional academic worlds. This dichotomy presents both challenges and opportunities as career paths.
First, what is the definition of career and technical education? One fairly inclusive definition from Great Schools Partnership is “a term applied to schools, institutions, and educational programs that specialize in the skilled trades, applied sciences, modern technologies, and career preparation.” Barton, as opposed to traditional college settings, offers a variety of end goals consisting of shorter term certificates, two-year Associate of Applied Science (AAS) or Two-year Associate of Science (AS) degrees. Many careers in agriculture definitely fit into this definition. However, many career opportunities in agriculture also fit in the traditional view of education. So what does this mean for anyone looking for a career and possibly considering agriculture?
Barton offers certificates in Beef Cattle Production and Crop Protection which can be completed in two semesters. Also offered are AAS degrees in Crop Protection and Ag. Business Management with AS degree in Agriculture. All but the AS degree are designed to provide necessary skills, both hard and essential (soft), for rapid entry into the workforce with the ability to obtain a career with good wages and benefits. Part of what they learn fits the definition of career and technical education from the previous paragraph. However, they also need the background and understanding those following a more traditional higher education path are exposed to including a basic understanding of plants, animals, soils and their interactions in addition to the more technical aspects of the field.
Why point this out? Students of any age pursuing a certificate or degree must work hard to learn both the general and applied science for agriculture and the more technical side in a short period of time. Upon successful completion of their educational track here, they won’t know everything (no college can do that) but they will have the background and thinking skills to continue learning and solving challenges in their positions.