First, more beneficial rainfall and some not so beneficial hail and wind swept through the area this past week. Many received an inch or more of precipitation which while helping “ease” the drought situation certainly didn’t dramatically ease it for most. This week’s drought monitor report is good through 8 a.m. this last Tuesday so it didn’t reflect these rains. It shows some easing but much of the state and especially from this area south were still in the grips of a severe drought. This should ease a bit with next week’s report but warm, windy conditions will ameliorate the benefits.
Second, the annual Kansas Wheat Tour wrapped up this past week. It really didn’t tell producers anything new but what producers already know – wheat is behind approximately two weeks, the average yield is pegged under forty bushels per acre with a crop well under 300 million bushels per acre, and it needs rain and moderate temperatures. Now on to today’s topic.
The spring semester is drawing to a close. Finals at Barton Community College are this week with a Friday evening graduation. All part of a normal April and May. Another part of a normal May here in the Agricultural Department at Barton are phone calls and e-mails all asking the same question: “Do you have any students you could recommend for a position we have?” These are both organizations serving the ag industry, producers, and feed yards. They describe full-time jobs with excellent wages, benefits, incentives, and opportunities for advancement. Or part-time jobs or internships with good wages and the opportunity for full-time employment after graduation. Jobs with much higher wages and better benefits than many service sector type jobs.
They have trouble recruiting and identifying quality candidates. Part of the problem is the low unemployment rate. Part of the problem is most people don’t have an ag background, don’t think they would be considered, and no idea what these jobs really are. Some think they need a four-year degree and don’t realize they can make more with a two-year degree or certificate than many with four-year degrees. The reality is far from these misconceptions.
Employers in ag are looking for responsible people willing to learn, responsible, and possessing the Essential Skills, or soft skills, making a good employee. They would naturally prefer someone with an ag background but can work around that. And employers in the area know there are educational opportunities at places like Barton Community College.
Barton and other community colleges work with industry through advisory boards to determine workforce needs and the educational training needed. From that input, certificate and two-year degree programs are developed to help employees and employers. At Barton there are one-year certificates and two-year degrees in Crop Protection, Beef Cattle Production, and Ag Business Management. The take home lesson here is that Barton is enrolling now and interested individuals can improve their career prospects and income in two-years or less,
Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.