The World Is Our Classroom

1/18/2014 7:00 AM

Have you noticed how much more there is to learn today than there was even just 25 years ago? If you have a teenager in junior high or high school, all you have to do is help them with their algebra homework to realize how different things are from when you were in school. New techniques of such as teaching, new ways to grade, and new teaching tools Web-based classrooms make learning an entirely different experience than it was back then. Yet, the basic principles are still the same.

That change doesn’t just exist in the educational system. Anyone who works on a dairy farm operation knows all too well how quickly things can change. So, how do you keep up with the insurmountable mountain of change that is flooding our world every day?

One way is to never stop learning. Think of those teachers who have been teaching in that classroom for the past 25 years. The way they taught math when they first started in their career isn’t the same way they teach it today. They also didn’t use the computer or electronic white boards back then, and they didn’t have to deal with Wikipedia, texting and other technologies that make it harder to tell whether students actually comprehend the information they’re teaching them.

Teachers and other educators are required to continue to take educational courses to keep up with that change. They are expected to learn about new teaching methods and technologies and then utilize them in their classrooms.

Although it is not a requirement in the dairy industry to take continued education courses, perhaps it should be. There are very few other industries that have seen the amount of change that has occurred in the dairy industry over the past 20 years. Precision farming technology, robotic milking, electronic animal identification, and even a global dairy market exchange are relatively new concepts to the industry. Yet, they are just a few of the changes that continue to shape how we do business today and tomorrow.

Each year in February, the center joins the Professional Dairy Managers of Pennsylvania to host the Pennsylvania Dairy Summit. This year, the Dairy Summit is Feb. 12 - 13 at the Penn Stater Conference Center in State College, Pa. Just like the rest of the world around us, the Dairy Summit continues to change and grow as it evolves.

In 2014, we are excited to have the Summit in a brand-new part of the state to give more producers the opportunity to attend. We are also looking forward to offering four unique program tracks and a special demonstration area to give participants an opportunity to see first-hand some of the new technologies and tools available to their businesses. We are thrilled to be featuring four business showcases this year, and we are looking forward to the comprehensive list of breakout sessions planned for the two-day event.

However, what we are most excited about is the opportunity to bring producers and agribusiness leaders together to network and learn - about the global dairy industry, about new technologies available in dairy, and about their own unique situation and how to make their business even more profitable. It has been said that farmers learn best from other farmers, and we purposely design the summit to provide plenty of opportunities for participants to interact and share insights on dairying with each other.

The entire Summit Planning Committee puts a tremendous amount of work into planning this event each year, and we would welcome you to join in the learning and networking experience. However, if you’re not able to attend the summit, that by no means eliminates your opportunities for continuing education.

The next time you get an invitation to attend your local cooperative meeting, get your latest dairy magazine in the mail, get asked to join a dairy farmer peer group or have the chance to attend an open house at a new facility down the road, make sure you take advantage of the opportunity. Continuing education doesn’t have to happen in a classroom or behind a computer. It can happen bit by bit with every opportunity we leverage to learn. It has been said that the world is our classroom, but you have to be willing to open the door to learn.

For more information about the Pennsylvania Dairy Summit, call the Summit Business Office at 814-355-2467 or visit For more information about the Center for Dairy Excellence, please call us at 717-346-0849 or visit

Editor’s Note: John Frey is the Center for Dairy Excellence executive director.

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