Coolest Extension Experience

Yesterday I was honored to participate in the coolest experience ever of my Extension career!  UNL Extension has been providing agricultural training to soldiers deploying to Afghanistan next month.  Their mission is to help the Afghan people become more sustainable with their agricultural production and to empower Afghan people to serve as Extension agents to their local people.  For more information, check out the latest edition of Nebraska Farmer Magazine and our Web site.

Agriculture in this area is like turning the clock back 100 years.  Wheat seed is sown by hand or with oxen or donkeys.  Farm plots are 1 acre or less for the most part and families try to raise enough food to feed themselves.  Residue and manure is burned for fuel.  Our soldiers have quite a challenge and opportunity ahead of them! If we can teach the people to feed themselves, they hopefully won’t pursue other options of obtaining income such as through the poppy trade.

Because UNL and partners such as NRCS have worked in training the military, they invited us on their Boss Lift-essentially developed to thank employers for supporting their National Guard and Reserve employees during deployments.  Dr. Elbert Dickey and I rode in a Chinook helicopter, ate Meals Ready to Eat (MRE’s), and watched the soldiers go through exercises such as identifying Improvised Explosive Devices (IED’s), humvee rollovers, putting on gas masks, stopping and searching vehicles and people, and weapons firing (we even got to shoot their weapons in a simulated video game!).  

Throughout the day, I kept thinking how blessed I was to have this opportunity and to know the team members so well who are going-they are almost like family to me!  If I feel that way through the few experiences I’ve had with them, I can’t imagine the bond formed between them while they are away at war. Extra special was the fact that I was a military wife getting to watch my husband perform the training-an opportunity wives just don’t get to partake in.  It’s hard to explain the sense of pride, honor, and thankfulness one has in experiencing something like this…I have tears just thinking of it.  This truly was the coolest experience I’ve ever had in Extension and I’m so thankful for the opportunity to work with this group of soldiers! I know UNL Extension will do our best to provide reach-back and answer questions they encounter once they get over in Afghanistan!

About jenreesources

I'm the Crops and Water Extension Educator for York and Seward counties in Nebraska with a focus in irrigated crop production and plant pathology.

Posted on May 10, 2011, in Military and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Jenny – It definitely is an experience you will remember. I was able to participate in the same type of activities when the Operations Boss Lift was held about 2 years ago. To see a small piece of what our military men and wonmen do for us during times of conflict makes more appreciative of their sacrifices and the sacrifices their families must make. I have had the opportunity to work some with GPS and the youth of military families and it is truly exciting to hear about their stories of telling their deployed parent they learn what GPS is and how they can use it just like that parent might be doing in their location clear across the world. Keep up the great work you are doing in sustainable ag training with our military. It is so powerful!

  2. Dave Rasmussen

    Jenny, it is the ADT2 team that owes you a big thank you. You and all the UNL extention have been a tremendous help. You have given us a great opportunity to learn and brush up on so many skills that will come in very handy this next year. You are all a big part of the success that will be accomplish on our mission. Thank you. Dave

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