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Fostering Geospatial Capabilities for Agriculture

The National Center for Agriscience and Technology Education (AgrowKnowledge) helps its partners prepare students to use emerging technologies, including GIS, in careers in areas such as precision agriculture, biotechnology, alternative energy production, natural resource management, and nutritious food production. As part of this mission, AgrowKnowledge sponsors a variety of workshops, conferences, and studies that foster faculty development, capacity building, and curriculum development.

Dr. Joseph Jen
Dr. Joseph Jen, United States Depart-ment of Agriculture undersecretary, was a keynote speaker at the AgrowKnowledge 5th Annual Conference.

Headquartered at Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, AgrowKnowledge is a national partnership of community colleges that also works with business and industry, leading agricultural universities, secondary schools, and professional associations.

Faculty Development

AgrowKnowledge held a faculty development workshop at Kirkland College entitled "GIS for Decision-Making in Agriculture" June 14-16, 2006. It covered analysis and interpretative techniques that enhance decision making in agriculture and was built on last year's AgrowKnowledge GPS data collection workshop. By the conclusion of the workshop, participants should have

  • Gained an awareness for the importance of teaching geospatial decision making
  • Understood that precision farming is a management/decision-making system
  • Been able to describe analysis techniques in GIS that are useful for agriculture
  • Been able to describe interpretative maps and charts useful in agriculture
  • Created a suitability map
  • Completed a zonal statistics chart

AgrowKnowledge 5th Annual Conference

The AgrowKnowledge 5th Annual Conference, a four-day program of speakers, seminars, and hands-on learning, was held February 28 through March 3 in Kansas City, Missouri. This year, 143 educators, students, and industry people from 29 states participated in the conference. The 2006 conference theme was "Technology, the Heart of Agriculture." Participants could attend sessions organized into various tracks: geospatial technology, biotechnology, agricultural literacy, information technology, educational issues, career awareness, bioterrorism and food safety as well as several hands-on workshops. Keynote speakers included the United States Department of Agriculture undersecretary Dr. Joseph Jen.

Twenty-one organizations supported the conference through purchase of a booth and/or donations of time, money, and door prizes. Individuals from John Deere, Ag Leader, and Esri all gave presentations.

Agricultural Geospatial Model Program of Study

This set of courses with competencies will provide a model for colleges wanting to develop precision agriculture programs.

"We can impact individual colleges and their relationships with secondary programs with the planning institutes. We can impact the level of science, math, and technology within individual college programs with the Model Programs of Study," said Terry Brase, AgrowKnowledge principal investigator. "We can make more high-scholastic students aware of advanced careers in agriculture through the career-planning resources." The Agricultural Geospatial Model Program of Study is currently in the validation stage, and AgrowKnowledge is looking for colleges and industry representatives to review the materials and provide additional input before being published. For more information on AgrowKnowledge, visit www.agrowknow.org.

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