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January 26, 2024
After slamming a textbook closed studying for finals during my undergraduate degree at North Dakota State University, I declared to my study group, “Once I graduate, I’m never going back to school!” Of course, ultimately, I changed my mind and went back for more. Why? Because I discovered that I really liked to learn.
I heard the concept of being a “lifelong learner” during my time as a county Extension agent, and that mindset is something I have kept with me ever since. Being a lifelong learner means you continue to learn new skills and subjects long after completing a formal education program. Do you know which industry is home to a multitude of people who bring this mindset to their lives? Agriculture, of course.
Lifelong learners tend to have these habits:
embrace a growth mindset
welcome new challenges
nurture their passions
pursue learning with intention
Of course, these can all be accomplished by finding a new hobby, trying out a new farm management practice, attending a university’s continuing education seminar or webinar, or simply reading a good book on a new topic.
You might have seen or heard our latest offering from Farm Progress, the FP Next podcast that launched in January. As an avid podcast listener, I knew the value and educational opportunity podcasts bring, and put a plan together to start one.
Way more learning and critical thinking went into the creation of this podcast than I expected. Researching the right equipment, finding the best software program and troubleshooting problems along the way were all things I didn’t know would be needed to learn first. That doesn’t even include the time relearning how to produce and edit audio.
Without having a growth mindset and having already decided that I was up for the challenge and the learning to accompany it, there probably would have been a lot more frustrations along the way. Having a brief stint in farm broadcasting and having a great co-host — Curt Arens, editor of Nebraska Farmer — I probably wouldn’t be having as much fun learning the ropes.
Even without the podcast, those of us in agriculture are always learning the next thing, a new practice or the latest tech. I learn something new almost every time I interview for a story and definitely every time I visit a farm. (Also, be sure to listen in to our latest podcast here FP Next Podcast.)
Maybe you want to start off your new year by making a few learning goals for yourself throughout the year. Examples include finding a conference near you that has an interesting breakout session, attending an online webinar from a land-grant university on precision agriculture, or checking out a holistic grazing school. In this day and age, you can find a plethora of information at the touch of a button online. YouTube videos and tutorials, research articles, and more can be found on any topic at any time.
This year, I have goals to complete LinkedIn learning courses alongside professional development education, and attend a few conferences to both improve my journalism skills and my agriculture knowledge. What do you want to learn in 2024?
Read more about:Education
Editor, Dakota Farmer, Farm Progress
Sarah McNaughton of Bismarck, N.D., has been editor of Dakota Farmer since 2021. Before working at Farm Progress, she was an NDSU 4-H Extension agent in Cass County, N.D. Prior to that, she was a farm and ranch reporter at KFGO Radio in Fargo.
McNaughton is a graduate of North Dakota State University, with a bachelor’s degree in ag communications and a master’s in Extension education and youth development.
She is involved in agriculture in both her professional and personal life, as a member of North Dakota Agri-Women, Agriculture Communicators Network Sigma Alpha Professional Agriculture Sorority Alumni and Professional Women in Agri-business. As a life-long 4-H’er, she is a regular volunteer for North Dakota 4-H programs and events.
In her free time, she is an avid backpacker and hiker, and can be found most summer weekends at rodeos around the Midwest.
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