Country Guide: When college grads come home to the farm
As ountry Guide:
On a sun-dappled morning in mid-September, 80 young men and women assemble in a large auditorium at the University of Manitoba’s campus. They’re here for a day of orientation as they begin two years of study towards their agricultural diplomas….
In the crowd this fall day is Michele Rogalsky, director of University of Manitoba’s School of Agriculture’s diploma program. She is also president of the Canadian Association of Diploma in Agriculture Programs (CADAP), representing 15 post-secondary institutions across Canada that offer ag diplomas. If anyone understands the challenge of keeping up and ensuring their programs are meeting the needs of this rapidly changing industry, it’s her.
Here’s the strategy. At the University of Manitoba the focus is on teaching farm science and technology, but their students are also being equipped with management skills, Rogalsky says.
Yes, students will head back to the farm competent in a broad set of technical areas, with real insights into modern best practices.
But they’ll also be able to think on their feet, to problem solve and to score points as team players.
Plus, they’ll also bring a valuable understanding of agricultural and food systems.
“They become critical and independent thinkers and mature responsible citizens,” says Rogalsky.
University of Manitoba’s program is recognized by the Agronomists of Manitoba as qualification for a technical agrologist’s designation, and the diploma in agriculture is regularly a gateway to two more years of study in the faculty of agricultural and food sciences degree program, too.
The University of Manitoba recently completed an extensive review of their program offerings, says Rogalsky, leading to a new focus that it implemented last year. The emphasis now is on teaching the principles that underlie modern farm production and agribusiness management practices, not just the how-tos.
The goal is to expand students’ opportunities to develop and apply higher level decision-making skills. It’s to help them excel at assessing a farm business, and at assessing the impact of current agricultural issues on individual farm operations and on the industry as a whole….