Agricultural Educator  What They Do

Just the Facts

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dotFarming 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 County, Wisconsin.

Trzebiatowski specializes in farm business management. More than ever, agricultural educators are needed "to help producers and managers improve their management and marketing skills."

dotWithout the services of agricultural educators, the supply and variety of food on supermarket shelves might be drastically different from year to year.

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.

dotWith 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.

dotFarms 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.

dotGreenhouses, 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."

dotHigh 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 representatives.

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.

At a Glance

Promote agriculture and help farmers grow their farms

  • You have to keep up with advances in the field
  • Teaching computer skills to farmers is a big part of the job
  • Start with a bachelor's degree in agriculture