The job title “Cowboy” conjures images of riding range and roping dogies, but real life cowboys in the 21st Century have a lot more to do than wander over yonder and gaze at the moon. Working knowledge of animal science, including animal nutrition, safety precautions and more is required. A cowboy may still ride a horse, but may also need to be able to download information into a computer.
So it’s pretty exciting that Barton Community College is proposing to create a program for becoming a Certified Cowboy. It’s not called that, but the proposed certificate program for beef cattle production would be a good introduction to the cattle industry, “from conception to consumption,” as one instructor said.
Not being cowboys, we don’t know what all the job entails. During a recent meeting at the college, a representative from the Workforce Education department mentioned a couple of things a cowboy (or cowgirl) might need to know: the ability to recognize an animal that needs medical attention, and the mathematical acumen to calculate and administer the animal’s correct doses of medicine.
What it boils down to is, most careers benefit from having employees who not only know what tasks they are supposed to perform, but why they are doing those tasks and how what they do will affect the end product. An employee who “gets” the job, who not only works hard but anticipates and prevents problems, is more valuable that an employee who just does the job and gets paid. The bonus for the trained employee is better pay and more job satisfaction.
If the college trustees approve the creation of a beef cattle production certificate, the proposal will go to the Kansas Board of Regents and the Technical Education Authority, which is particularly interested in programs that help get people into jobs in Kansas. Area leaders in the cattle production industry have assured the college that with the value of animals and the cost of production, an educated workforce is indeed important. Let’s hope others agree.