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Learning is a lifelong endeavor. In Extension, we are expected to have some type of “professional development” annually. Some professions such as doctors or veterinarians are required to take “continuing education” classes periodically. Many certifications require that credits be obtained to maintain the certification. No matter what you are doing in life, it is very important to be in a constant state of learning.

Though it goes by many names, we are all constantly learning. This learning can be through traditional classes or just by paying attention to your surroundings. One of the reasons that cooperative Extension was developed a little over 100 years ago was to provide educational opportunities to everyone. It is often hard to explain what cooperative Extension is to someone who has never heard of it, but we are exactly as the name implies. A cooperative, we are a partnership of local, state and federal public funds along with local private funds and resources. An Extension, we are an extension of the land grant university. In Virginia, we have two land grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State. This all means that your local Extension office is a local extension of the universities, providing educational opportunities for everyone. We are here to support your lifelong learning.

“Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know.” Historian Daniel J Boorstin wrote this quote and it is often true. Sometimes learning happens by chance, curiosity facilitates this learning and personal growth. However, often it takes effort to learn what you did not know. Our knowledge of this world grows daily. Sometimes what we did know just plain changes over time.

No matter where you are at in your personal and professional life, there is always something to learn. Take advantage of the opportunities available, they are plentiful. With today’s technology, the information available is greater than ever and more easily accessible. Webinars and online articles are great ways to get information. Extension websites for many states are available with information. Of course we offer traditional methods of getting information out as well. Meetings and workshops, newsletters, emails and magazines are all available for you to attend or read.

Sometimes these opportunities are overwhelming as there are so many of them. It is not necessary to attend everything that is available, but it is recommended that you try to get some educational information every year. This goes for both your personal life and your professional life. While dairy farming is a way of life, it is also a business that needs to be profitable to be sustainable over time.

Take the time in the coming year to improve your life through time management, financial management or managing your farm. There is always something to learn, you just need to find the opportunities that are available. Make it a priority to learn something every day. Contact your local Extension office for available opportunites.

Jeremy Daubert is a Virginia Cooperative Extension dairy agent based in Rockingham County. He can be reached at jdaubert@vt.edu.