Barton Community College officials plan to ask the Board of Regents to approve a new educational program for cowboys. The idea is to create a certificate for beef cattle production, similar to the certificate that can now be earned for knowledge of crop production.
Dr. Verle Carlson, D.V.M., Lyons, already teaches “Beef Cattle Production” and “Fundamentals of Animal Nutrition” at Barton. At a recent meeting with college trustees, Carlson and others explained the increasing need for a coordinated program of study leading to a certificate in cattle production.
“The beef cattle industry has a need for entry level people with some knowledge,” Carlson said. Talking to managers of feedlots, he has learned it generally takes two years for a cowboy to become a valuable employee. Considering the cost of producing quality animals, the safety regulations and inspection rules, an employee needs do know how to do the work, and but also needs to know why things are done a certain way.
Cowboys need to have an understanding of all facets of the industry, “from conception to consumption,” Carlson said.
“They need to understand that what they do today affects what the consumer gets in the future. What they’re doing today becomes extremely vital to the end product.”
Julie Kramp, executive director of Workforce Training & Economic Development at BCC, enumerated other skills a modern cowboy needs, such as math and the ability to recognize when an animal is ill.
Carlson said BCC’s agricultural department has received letters of support from 10 area feedlots as it attempts to create a certificate program in beef cattle production. A Level One certificate would require 23 credit hours of study, in subjects such as “Principles for Animal Science” and “Farm Machinery and Technology.” A Level Two certificate would require 37 hours, adding courses in “Horse Production,” “Range Management” and “Beef Operations.”
Barton trustee Robert Feldt asked how the college would sell a certificate program for a traditionally low-paying career. “Who will pay for this certificate program?”
Dr. Vic Martin, coordinator of the BCC agricultural program, said feedyards might want to send there employees to school. “What you said (about the jobs being low paying) is rapidly becoming not true,” Martin added. “We’re not trying to make managers; this is the field application side, not the management side.” However, he said, the industry needs employees who can work with little supervision.
Elaine Simmons, dean of Workforce Training & Community Education, said future students might be eligible for federal financial aid.
Getting trustees’ approval is the next step in creating a certificate program, Simmons said. From there it will go to the Kansas Board of Regents and the curriculum committee of the Technical Education Authority in Topeka.
Revisions to Barton’s Associate of Applied Science degree in agribusiness are also requested. According to information provided to trustees: “The current Agribusiness AAS degree coursework lists courses that have not been taught for several years, such as “Meat Judging” and “Carcass Selection.” With input from the Agriculture Advisory Board, it is recommended that selected certificate courses are utilized as electives for students who desire to complete an AAS in Agribusiness with an emphasis in Beef Cattle Production.”
Mike Johnson, chairman of the board of trustees, asked that the recommendations be added to the agenda for the July 19 meeting.