Southern Spotlight: Back to School

James Banahan

James Banahan

If it hasn’t already, school is about to start up for the kiddos.  My daughter starts kindergarten this year, and it’s making me think.  She knows so much already and she can already do so many things.  It seems like I could just set her going in the world, and she would be perfectly fine.  She may be even smarter and better off than me, and all that with a preschool education.  However, when I think about her with some more education—some maturity and growth—that’s what really takes my breath away.  She won’t be just fine.  She’ll succeed.  She’ll thrive.

The school calendar is a bit of a reversal of our own calendar.  They wrap up the year right when we really get going and start as we wind down.  I know that’s not by coincidence, but this isn’t a history lesson: it’s to say that as the kiddies start back, it’s time to reflect on our own upcoming “graduations” and what we do with the education we receive each year in our fields.

Just like graduation into the next grade is the big payoff to a school kid for all the hard work he or she put in that year, harvest is our big payoff for our own toil during a growing season.  Also, just like we expect a kid to build next year on the information learned this year, so should we expect that of ourselves.

Our profession is not a static one.  While we have our routine, this August shouldn’t be a repeat of last August—ideally, this August is an improvement upon last, and next August will be an improvement upon this one.  As our knowledge builds, we tweak our operations as close to perfection as we can get.

A study out of Purdue University states that 70% of growers will change five things in their operation from one season to the next.  That change is growth, evidence of lessons learned, evidence of building knowledge.  Like I said, our profession is not a static one.  So how about you?  What did you learn this year that you can build upon next season?  What caught your attention at an RD event that you think might benefit your operation?

We watch our kids grow, graduate from one grade into the next, and we expect that they’ll learn and change.  That learning and changing is exciting to see.  We should expect the same of ourselves, and think about our own learning and changing with as much excitement as we think about our kids’.  Learning and growing means that we won’t simply be fine—they set us on a course to surpass “fine” and make it more likely that we succeed and thrive.  Such development is, after all, about the future, and a potentially more profitable one at that.