Posts Tagged ‘AgrowKnowledge’

Know Your Farmer

Friday, March 18th, 2011


This week not only brings us more hours of daylight, warmer temperatures and the promise of spring, it’s the annual celebration of National Agriculture Day, which this year features the theme, “Your Food, Your Farmer.”

Farming is such an integral part of our lives, it can be easy to take farmers for granted. But try surviving without them: According to the American Farm Bureau, the average U.S. farmer is responsible for feeding 155 people each year. And that’s three times the amount produced per farmer 50 years ago.

The good news is that the past several years have witnessed a growing awareness of the food we eat — and where it comes from. For example, a resurgence in Farmers Markets, which now total more than 6,100 cross-country, bring locally produced fruits and vegetables, meats, cheese, flowers and breads to consumers in every state in the nation, and bring the community face-to-face with the people behind their agriculture.

At the same time, the Farm-to-School initiative, launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), gets kids involved in agriculture from an early age. The program uses classroom lessons, farm tours and even hands-on planting of community gardens as some of the many ways to help children understand how their food reaches their plates.

Meanwhile, the USDA website, “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food,” introduces all of us to the bountiful ways that farmers, large and small, make a difference in our lives, whether it’s by promoting healthy eating, protecting natural resources or strengthening rural communities and economies.

Check out the Agrowknowledge website for career ideas and educational resources in the farming and agricultural industries. They’re growing fields – literally and figuratively!

Tools of the Trade: What’s New In Agriculture

Friday, February 11th, 2011


It’s been more than 20 years since affordable geographic information systems (GIS) and global positioning systems (GPS) first came into widespread use, enabling the farm industry to plant and maintain crops with “precision.” Since then, numerous other innovations – automatic steering, seed and spray applications, and web-based technology, to name just a few – have made Precision Agriculture a standard way of doing business, with its efficient technologies and environmentally sound practices.

This week, World Ag Expo, “the world’s largest annual agriculture exposition celebrating 44 years of innovative agriculture” examines New Tools for Agri-Business. We looked at a few of the “Top 10 New Products of 2011” and how they further add to the “precision” of Precision Agriculture.

We’ll start with a decidedly low-tech innovation known as the AG Flag. As developer Mike Hansen explains on the World Ag Expo website, this “farmer-friendly” water-activated device helps farmers save money, water and effort by eliminating guesswork. “It’s an incredibly simple way to signal when your flood irrigation water reaches the pre-determined location in your field or crop and that it’s time to change or shut off the water.” Mounted at the end of a 5-foot long pole, the AG Flag springs up when irrigation water dissolves a strip of paper that secures the flag; once released and upright, the bright orange flag can be seen up to a mile away.

Meanwhile, World Ag Expo also tells us that a new software system called Connected Farm is helping increase farm management efficiency by combining precision farming information collected in the field with data management software and cell phone technology. According to a company spokesperson, the software provides users with an easy, secure wireless transfer of production records from the field to the office, and back to the field, enabling employees to work off the same set of data and simultaneously receive updates — no matter how far away from one another they may be.

And a new rugged tablet computer from Trimble Yuma is designed to work where farmers and ranchers work – in scorching summer heat and sub-zero winter cold, not to mention in driving rain and blinding snow and dusty, muddy conditions. So, as the World Ag Expo website explains, instead of using crop management or livestock monitoring software only in the office, this new portable device – weighing less than three pounds – lets farmers bring it into the field or barn, operating on two rechargeable batteries.

If you’d like to learn more about the educational opportunities available in the field of Precision Agriculture, check out the websites of Kirkwood Community College, or Agrowknowledge, the National Resource Center for Agriscience and Technical Education, where you’ll find plenty of information and resources, including educational and career opportunities available in the Agricultural Industry.

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Friday, January 14th, 2011

Job Search
What do you want to be when you grow up?

No doubt you were asked that question countless times throughout childhood, when an answer of “astronaut” or “President of the United States” would have been greeted with enthusiasm by your parents and other adults.

But now the question is real, and it’s time to figure out a career path. How do you begin?

You might start with an exercise that is known as the “Career Interest Game,” also referred to as “The Party Game” in the job hunter’s bible, What Color Is Your Parachute? This exercise is based on the theory that people and work environments can be loosely classified into six different groups (Conventional, Realistic, Artistic, Enterprising, Social or Investigative) and that different personalities are better suited to different careers and workplaces.

The Career Interest Game has been adapted specifically for the agriculture industry by AgrowKnowledge, the National Center for Agriscience & Technology Education. So, if you’re interested in the field of agriculture, but aren’t certain what type of job you might like, the AgrowKnowledge Interest Inventory is a great place to start investigating career options.

Here’s how it works: Users review three categories of questions and check off all the answers that are applicable to them. So, for example, the first category, which focuses on 35 separate personality traits, asks participants if they are “helpful,” “outgoing,” “friendly,” “athletic,” etc.

The next category also has 35 possible responses, this time focusing on an individual’s particular skills (Can you….“lead a group;” “teach/train others;” “use a computer;” “solve mechanical problems,” etc.)

Finally, the third category gauges users’ general interests with 35 questions that begin “Do you like to…..” Options include such interests as “be physically active,” “read fiction, plays and poetry,” “participate in meetings,” or “tinker with mechanics.”

Once you have responded to all three categories of questions, the AgrowKnowledge Interest Inventory Results will calculate how you match up with the six different groups we talked about earlier, and offer a list of careers in the agricultural industry that might be a good fit for you.

For example, if your inventory results were primarily in the “Realistic” category, AgroKnowledge suggests a comprehensive list of different career options, including Agriculture Product Assembler, Fisheries Technician, Forest and Conservation Worker, and GPS Technician, for starters. Or, if you scored highest in the Social category, AgroKnowledge suggests jobs such as Park Manager or Extension Agent. Descriptions of each job are included.

This simple — and fun — exercise could wind up paying off. As Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute? recently noted in the 2011 edition of the guidebook, job searches take time and energy no matter what — so you may as well look for a job that really fits “you” and gets you excited about getting up in the morning!