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Serving: IA

FFA students gain real-world skills

Rock Valley High School students working in small groups in classroom
NEW TOOLS: The Advanced Agriculture Class at Rock Valley High School began using financial management and decision-making software for cattle feeding operations in January.
Computers and software donated by cattle producers help ag students learn to use new technology.

Students at a Sioux County high school in northwest Iowa are being given the chance to learn how to use feedlot management tools, thanks to the addition of new laptops and software to their agricultural education program.

The Rock Valley High School ag education program recently partnered with the Iowa Cattlemen’s Foundation, the Sioux County Cattlemen, the Iowa State Beef Checkoff and Turnkey Computer Systems to fund this project.

Sioux County is one of the top cattle-feeding counties in the nation. It ranks fourth in the U.S. in number of cattle feeding operations and 14th in sales of fed cattle. With such a large feedlot presence, Micah Weber, Rock Valley High School ag education teacher, wanted to better prepare his students to enter the ag workforce.

“Our students need hands-on experience using data to make decisions on the farm,” Weber says. “The Advanced Livestock Tracker software from Turnkey Computer Systems is giving them that opportunity.”

Using farm management software
Many students who participate in the high school ag classes in Rock Valley will go on to work in agriculture. And although they have strong backgrounds in animal science and technology, few are trained in farm management software or farm management, both skills they will likely need in the future.

A division of Animal Health International, Turnkey Computer Systems has several programs available for farm management, tracking everything from feed ingredients to vaccinations and associated costs. The program being used by Rock Valley FFA is Advanced Livestock Tracker, which is commonly used on Iowa’s smaller feedlots. A local cattle feeder is sharing his data so students have a real-life scenario to work with.

Meghan Anderson, from Turnkey Computer Systems, says this software will help better prepare students for the real world. “You can’t make the decisions you need to be profitable if you can’t measure the costs that are going into your family’s farm operation,” she says. “The students are finding out that using this type of technology makes it easy to know the costs incurred, and to figure out how much return you are making in a farming operation, such as cattle feeding.”

The program will also allow students to print reports that farmers use with their bankers to secure ag loans, calculate a breakeven and make management decisions using financial data.

Source: Iowa Cattlemen’s Association

TAGS: Livestock
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