GIS Day Renews Perspective on Ag Training & Careers
April 24, 2017
UA Cossatot Agriculture program hosted GIS Day featuring agriculture industry experts to discuss the use of geographic information system (GIS) technology in farming and land assessment with area educators. GIS technology aids in the collection, organization, and analysis of data to improve agronomic decisions.
In addition to sharing information about employment opportunities for people with GIS skills and experience, the presentation began the conversation about adding technical training in high schools and at the community college level.
The OPEN-GATE grant that the UA Cossatot Agriculture program received earlier this year through the Center for Advanced Spatial Technology at the University of Arkansas will host workshops, like this one, to help educators implement GIS technology and skills into their curriculum. De Queen-Mena Educational Co-op, local Ag teachers, EAST teachers, and GT teachers are invited to attend.
UA Cossatot Agriculture Instructor Kelli Harris, said, “The goal of everything we do in our agriculture program is to employ our agriculture graduates. This GIS grant is going to open doors for not only our students in employment, but also for our agriculture industry in Southwest Arkansas.”
Presenting were Garrett Jones from Pettit Machinery (pictured) and Kevin Pruett from Total Assessments. Jones uses GIS technology in his work with John Deere machinery.
“We are moving into a time where unmanned tractors will be widely used for farming,” Jones stated. “Anyone who knows how to diagnose electrical problems and repair GPS equipment will be invaluable. They will be paid like doctors in the future.”
Pruett uses GIS technology for land assessment.
Pruett explained, “Where not so long ago you used a worksheet to plot land, we are now using drones and airplanes with GIS to map and identify soil types.”
Other local agriculture industries that can use GIS technology are timber, row cropping, poultry, beef cattle, and hay production.
Harris stated, “I hope this grant and new opportunities for our students remind our community of the importance of agriculture education in our school and for our country. Agriculture is so much more than farming.”
Harris hopes that providing more GIS-skilled individuals into the workforce will aid in bringing new industry to southwest Arkansas.
Harris explained that UAC’s new Natural Resources associate degree, which is transferable to University of Arkansas Monticello, along with GIS training provide excellent choices for students seeking an agriculture career that doesn’t specifically involve poultry or cattle. This opportunity allows individuals to remain in southwest Arkansas.
The agriculture industry makes up twenty percent of United States’ economy. Technology like GIS provides research-based information and tools to the industry to stay ahead of food demand.