Agriculture is ever-changing. But so are most aspects of life. As time marches on, my hair becomes grayer and the tractors become larger with more bells and whistles. As technology changes to keep up with the time, I can now not only cover the gray in my hair in my own home in 20 minutes, I can also highlight at the same time, all in one easy step. And the tractors – well now I can utilize a GPS (global positioning system), download the current market report on my Blackberry while at the same time combining the corn in the field – all from the comfort of the hydrostatic, upholstered seat in the air-conditioned, climate-controlled cab. As one might guess, as the technology becomes faster and better in both tractors and hair-colour, I have more difficulty keeping up with both of them. So in an attempt to try to stay current – at least in the agricultural world, I have enrolled in the first-ever in North America (sounds impressive, doesn’t it?) online graduate agricultural communications program. If you are like me, the question of “what the heck is that?” may come to mind. In my own words, it’s really a writing course, using various forms of media (like the internet, periodicals, podcasts, etc.) to communicate agricultural matters to any reader. As I look at it for me personally, it’s helping me fill some extra time that I have since I am now an “empty-nester” at Snyderdale Farms.
The course is offered through the University of Guelph Open Learning Program and is being taught by Owen Roberts. During the first week, which was a residential week, much information was given by guest lecturers Ed Cassavoy, a senior new editor at the Toronto Star, Kyle Rodriguez, an experienced photojournalist for Artifacts for Life from Guelph, and Chuck Zimmerman, a prominent agricultural communications expert from Missouri and author of AGwired. Even though my brain was on “overload” much of the time (I have found that the state of ‘overload’ is common for those that are at or near the 50 age-mark), the information was valuable, interesting and very worthwhile. I am looking forward to the many upcoming projects over the next 16 months of the program.