While summer isn’t quite over, everyone is turning to a fall schedule. If they haven’t already, producers are planning and getting ready for the 2015 winter wheat crop and summer crops producers are starting to think about harvest. And many are already thinking about planting decisions for next spring. But there is one more crop plan underway in Kansas – the next crop of persons preparing for careers in some aspect of the agriculture sector.
• Don’t think this crop is strictly the young fresh out of high school. More and more what are termed nontraditional students are returning to post-secondary education to either enhance their skills or obtain totally new ones.
• Don’t put yourself under the illusion that these students are all male as more and more women are interested in and finding excellent careers in all phases of agriculture. And companies are more than eager to hire any qualified individual.
• Don’t believe the old stereotype of “aggies” or that these are low skill, low paying jobs without benefits. Agriculture has transformed itself markedly over the last twenty years. Most jobs have good to excellent wage opportunities, health care, retirement plans, paid sick leave and holidays and opportunities for advancement if you demonstrate your value as an employee.
• This isn’t your grandfather’s or even father’s agriculture industry. The breadth of technology in all aspects of production, whether livestock or crops, means you are as likely to be sitting in an air-conditioned machine that almost looks like an airplane cockpit inside that can steer itself and adjust rates on the go. In the cattle industry the technology exists to ID and monitor individuals in the herd with your I-phone or I-pad.
• You don’t need a bachelor’s degree for many of these careers. For many, a certificate program (less than two years of college) or a two-year degree is all that’s necessary for an excellent career.
• Most importantly, don’t be under the mistaken impression that after some post-secondary education, you obtain a job and off you go. The reality is that no matter what sector of the agricultural economy you might work in, you will constantly receive additional training and education to keep pace with the rapid pace of change in the industry.
• Don’t think the average producer is exempt from this lifelong education. Constantly updating your knowledge and skill level is just part of the landscape. Those who want to opt out of this lifelong quest likely will be out of business in fairly short order.
So as we head into fall don’t forget the crops we plan, plant, and harvest aren’t necessarily started out in the field.