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Education and agriculture
Dr. Victor Martin

As we all just celebrated Thanksgiving, let’s take a moment to give thanks for some events this past week in agriculture. Harvesting of fall crops was finally able to resume for many producers although weather today and this coming week doesn’t look very promising. Wheat was planted and with some luck will at least germinate and be able to vernalize. Soil moisture for wheat is the best it has been for many years and with a full soil profile, there is promise for the 2019 winter wheat crop and planting this spring. Hopefully everyone was able to enjoy the holiday. Now on to today’s topic – Education and Agriculture.

As the fall field work starts to wind down, producers don’t hibernate but tackle another task, continuing education. There are producer meetings put on by a variety of public and private organizations throughout the year but winter is typically the peak time for producer meetings. Seed, chemical, and various companies in agriculture, co-ops, federal and state agencies, K-State Research and Extension, grower associations, and others hold meetings on a variety of topics. The purposes vary from introducing new products and farming techniques/technologies to economics and potential new rules, regulations, and farm programs. The reality is producers in agriculture, if they want to be profitable and stay in business, must continuously keep learning and adapting. This is especially true in these very challenging economic times with Kansas farm bankruptcies increasing dramatically. And this need trickles down even further.

There is a chronic shortage of help in agriculture, whether it is trained or not. While many of these jobs don’t require a four-year degree, they benefit for a two-year degree or certificate. You have probably read in this column before these jobs pay well, have good benefits, and if you work hard and are willing to keep learning can easily be a career as companies don’t want to lose good employees.

For some, due to a variety of reasons, including a lack of funds, full-time employment, and a variety of other good reasons, simply can’t obtain even a certificate. However, they would benefit greatly and incur greater job/career opportunities with targeted learning. That is where institutions like Barton Community College, other community colleges and technical schools can help. It can be amazing how much the right class or classes can make in a person’s employment and income opportunities. Often they can obtain reimbursement from an employer if they successfully complete the course and it makes them a more valuable employee.

For example, Barton Community College offers Class A CDL training evenings and weekends. If someone is interested in obtaining a license in crop application, crop protection is offered one morning a week for three hours. If you want to know more about the proper care, feeding, and handling of horses, horse science meets Friday mornings at ten a.m.  In an ever changing world, education, even if only a targeted class or two can greatly impact a person’s future.

Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.