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1408 PD: Educated workers create solutions, educate others

Billy Frey Published on 29 September 2008

While there can be little doubt that a hands-on approach is critical for long-term success, I believe that education and the learning process would be of more value for the professionals of tomorrow.

Why? Simply put, technologies are changing at such an astonishing rate, we are now forced to move forward or be left behind. The student that is well-educated not only in regards to the latest discoveries but the one that knows how to learn is the one that has the advantage. He or she can identify change and determine the best course of action moving forward.

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The company I work for has long been a proponent of education. However, this education is not limited to the classroom or the laboratory. It is a strategic partnership between industry and university which allows students to learn in the lab, take what they’ve learned to the field to make sure it works and to a business environment to see if a classroom discovery can commercialized into a product. This method has been a win-win situation for all involved.

The university graduates students with both “book smarts” and “streets smarts” as they will have seen what translates into the “real world.” Industry benefits because it empowers the curiosity of youth to solve problems that might have seemed impossible, or even illogical to one with years of experience. The student might benefit the most because he or she will have a meaningful education and better direction in life. We need to take agriculture outside of the farm gate. The students that can solve real world problems by providing proven solutions are the students that will change the world.

In my opinion, agriculture is in the midst of a revolution. Gone are the days of making cheap and safe food and passing it along to the consumer who has to buy the product. Today, there are many “threats” to the food chain. These range from terrorism to ignorance, and in both, education plays a key role. It is obvious that we must keep our food supply safe so that when anyone goes to the grocery store, they know they are getting a safe and nutritious product.

The Internet has caused us to be a more educated society. By typing in a few key words, we can find the answer to those questions that have eluded us for so long, and we can do it quickly.

However, with more education comes more questions. Just as a child goes to school and begins to learn the how’s and why’s of life and to ask more questions, such are today’s consumers. They want to know what goes into their food supply. This gives us a great opportunity to “tell our story” about life on the farm. It’s our opportunity to explain to the consumer why agriculture does what agriculture does. By keeping the consumer “in the loop” as to our decisions, they will become a more informed consumer and feel better about the decisions they are making for their families at the grocery store.

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By knowing what “natural,” “organic” and “conventionally grown” mean, they will know they have a choice and will feel confident about making that choice. In turn, they won’t feel the need to place unwarranted demands on the industry, because they will know why we do what we do. By keeping everything above the table and beyond reproach, we now limit the power of other special interest groups that want to put us out of business.

The general public, and even worse, young elementary school children, receive their education from these groups. They prey on fear and ignorance. Why? Because for too long we haven’t felt the need to keep people informed. We hold the key to our future, and it all starts with education.

Tomorrow’s world is one that is becoming increasingly smaller and moving increasingly faster. More information is available but accessing that information and implementing it quickly is the key to a long term, successful career. In my opinion, Student 2 will have that career. PD

Billy Frey
Public Relations Manager
Alltech

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