Farming is global. It's getting more complicated every year. That's why
educators who keep farmers up to date and profitable are in high demand.
"Farming and agriculture has rapidly become a business, more than a way
of life," says Jack Trzebiatowski. He is an agricultural educator in Washington
Trzebiatowski specializes in farm business management. More than ever,
agricultural educators are needed "to help producers and managers improve
their management and marketing skills."
Without the services of agricultural educators, the supply and variety
of food on supermarket shelves might be drastically different from year to
Educators bridge the gap between farmer and research scientist, training
and advising students and farm managers. All of this helps farms to keep up
with technology, diversify, network and stay in business.
With fewer and fewer people directly involved in farm work or management,
agricultural educators connect the non-farming population to agricultural
issues. Mike Ferree works for Henry County, Illinois. His priority is educating
the non-farming public about agricultural issues.
Those teaching agricultural courses in high schools and colleges are also
referred to as agricultural educators.
Farms increasingly use computers to manage crucial parts of their business.
Trzebiatowski says that being able to teach computer skills to someone who
has never touched a PC is often part of an educator's repertoire of skills.
Greenhouses, exotic fruits and vegetables and herbs grown for naturopathic
remedies have given the farmer more options. But that means an educator --
or several of them -- must stay on top of the advances. Sometimes this involves
assisting people with unusual goals.
"One example is a person who raised pigs that wanted to try something new,"
says Trzebiatowski. "He'd seen a TV program about people in an Asian country
using parts of some organ from black bears for medicinal purposes. There are
times that the only response is to help people find other sources of information
if they exist."
High school agricultural educators typically work from 9 to 5 in the classroom.
Those in the field work in offices and meet with farmers and agricultural
This sort of hectic day demands an energetic personality. Occasional travel
for fieldwork or trips is required. Ideally, an agricultural educator has
the strength to do some heavy lifting for demonstrations on farm sites. Others
make arrangements for someone to do it for them.