No matter how technology changes agriculture Terry Halleran still teaches the basics

For the past 32 years, Terry Halleran has been an agriculture educator in southwest Missouri – beginning in Pleasant Hope and in classes at University of Missouri-Columbia, Missouri State University, Ozarks Technical Community College and for the last many years, as the ag teacher at Buffalo High School.
Over those years, he has had a front row seat to the many changes in agriculture in this part of the country and certainly, to agriculture education. “Many people still think ag education is all about cows and plows, but the truth is, that’s not all that we do anymore,” Terry Halleran explained. “There is a tremendous amount of diversity. There are over 200 careers in agriculture today and in the last several years, the addition of young ladies to the program has had a great influence in terms of the leadership skills involved.”
He thought for a moment and then continued. “I’ve done custom combining, hay hauling, run a hog operation, and milked my way through college, but today, what worries me is the number of our students who are becoming too dependent on technology. They want to skip a step or two and that just doesn’t work.
“Grandpa used mules to plow the fields which were then replaced by a tractor. Today, the tractor can be driven by a computer or even a GPS. Now that’s all fine and good but if the computer crashes as sometimes happens, the question is, will our youth know how to drive that tractor or where or even why? That is a real concern.
“Just like we still teach multiplication tables even though everyone has a calculator. I still teach crop and weed identification and lots of other basics because if you are out in that field, you’d better know the difference. Just like you better know what’s in that bale of hay, if you are agreeing to buy 100 bales of it. How much Clover compared to Fescue is in there, in other words, what’s the nutritional value of that hay? I don’t just teach farming. I teach rural life. And in life on the farm, we don’t have do-overs.”
Meanwhile, Terry Halleran’s dedication to basics is paying off in that he recently took five Dallas County FFA students to the national competition in Oklahoma City, Okla., where they competed in pasture and range and took 13th place in the nation. He also took 24 FFA competitors on six different teams to the state convention where they came in 3rd in state agronomy competitions. Over half of the students he took to state came home with gold medals.
“Kids have so many choices today and the ones who go to these kinds of competitions, work hard and do well.”


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