Hands-on training and experience are essential for successful professionals. And that’s why Betsy Bower says she has attended workshops at the Purdue Crop Diagnostic Training and Research Center (DTC).
“This is not death by PowerPoint,” says the agronomist for Ceres Solutions, an agribusiness based in western Indiana. “They give you a picture of a problem in your head, so when you see it, you know what it is and can test for it.”
The DTC has sponsored more than 500 workshops for more than 22,000 individuals since it began in 1986. Those who attend DTC programs affect nearly 35 million acres of Midwest cropland. The center also produces a series of agricultural field guides (including the Purdue Extension Corn & Soybean Field Guide) that have sold more than half a million copies.
That training is especially important for young professionals, says Bower, who has been an agronomist for about 20 years. Agronomists apply the science of soils and cropping systems to help farmers.
“When I started out several years ago, I attended every session to start that experience base,” she says. “You really get to touch it, feel it, taste it.”
What she learned in the workshops helped her in her day-to-day work.
“It allowed me to see, hey, this is what low soil pH looks like on corn; this is what it looks on beans because I could then go out and help a farmer, diagnose what was going on,” she says.
Bower says the learning and professional experience gave her a broader, deeper level of agronomic knowledge to share when she provides technical training to her company’s employees and their farmer customers. Bower, who also serves on the DTC’s advisory committee, still attends periodic DTC workshops and says the programs are practical.
“They are a great value for the dollar spent. To get all that knowledge in one day is a great value.”
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